Turkey — a member of NATO — is maintaining its plan to buy long-range anti-missile systems from China in a deal worth $3.4 billion dollars, however the nation does not plan to integrate the new missile defense system with NATO infrastructure, which has raised security concerns among other NATO members and U.S. officials.
Turkey’s Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz said in a written statement to parliament on Thursday that the contract to purchase the Chinese system would go ahead, according to Reuters and other news agencies.
As RT reports:
“The project will be financed with foreign financing. Work on assessing the bids has been completed and no new official bid was received,” the minister said.
“The system in question will be integrated with the national system for Turkey’s defense and will be used without integrating with NATO,” he added.
Reuters noted that other Turkish government officials later said on Thursday that a final decision on the contract had not been made and that talks with China were continuing.
An arms procurement committee in Turkey had chosen to contract China’s Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp back in 2013 for a $3.4 billion bid for its FD-2000 system.
Turkey’s announcement back in 2013 for its bid from a blacklisted Chinese company had sent shockwaves to its western allies as the anti-missile system was not going to be compatible with existing NATO infrastructure and that it would be linking up with a rival military power.
As Reuters reports:
U.S. and NATO officials are unhappy with Turkey’s choice of the China Precision Machinery, which has been under U.S. sanctions for selling items to Iran, Syria or North Korea that are banned under U.S. laws to curb the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
“NATO will never allow a Chinese system to be linked to its own infrastructure for fear of China could then discover the underlying logistics, could use it for cyber attacks and things like that,” said former Turkish diplomat Sinan Ulgen, now an analyst with the Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies in Istanbul. “So it’s not just a matter of technological compatibility – it’s much more than that.”