26 February 2014
NATO has made known its strong opposition to Turkey's potential purchase of the FD-2000 long-range missile defense system, which is produced by the Chinese state-owned China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corp. The alliance insists the technology will not be compatible with the evolving ballistic-missile shield being built in Europe. Even if it were, it could not be connected due to concerns that Chinese developers might build it digital back doors that could allow them access to classified NATO defense information, according to reports.
Turkish procurement officials have anonymously acknowledged that were Ankara to buy the Chinese defensive equipment, the future of all of of Ankara's defense collaboration activities with NATO members could be at risk, Defense News reported on Tuesday. U.S. and NATO officials have said that any Turkish firms that do contract work on the potential FD-2000 deal could be blacklisted by the United States because China Precision Machinery is under U.S. sanctions.
"I think there is growing concern in Ankara over that deal," an unidentified informed official said. "These concerns will definitely play a role in final decision-making, although they alone cannot be a reason to change course."
U.S. officials have broached the subject with Turkey nearly every day, the official said. Similarly, French President Francois Hollande brought up his concerns with the China deal when he visited Turkey late last month.
Ankara notes the deal with China has not been finalized and has given American and European defense firms until April to sweeten their rival bids to develop Turkey's long-range missile defense system.
Earlier this month, the head of Turkey's defense procurement agency, Murad Bayar, rejected assertions that Ankara is not giving adequate attention to the information-security concerns raised by NATO partners, the Hürriyet Daily News reported.
"We have accepted it and are taking precautions," Bayar said in the Feb. 17 article. "Our Western allies may be concerned as they dont have all the details, but we are acting openly."
He acknowledged, though, that there were "a few risk points"
in the China deal.