Republican lawmakers in both chambers are urging the Obama administration to use diplomatic and military levers to pressure Turkey into abandoning its plans to purchase a long-range missile-defense system from China.
Critics of the possible deal, announced last month, are concerned it could endanger the integrity of NATO's evolving ballistic missile shield as China might seek to use the system it sells to Turkey to illicitly extract data from the alliance's inter-connected missile defense network.
Because of this fear, opponents argue Ankara should not be permitted to connect the FD-2000 antimissile system it is interested in purchasing from a Chinese company with the broader alliance missile shield. There are also doubts that the Chinese technology could be made compatible with other NATO antimissile assets. "We strongly urge you to exert all available diplomatic pressure to prevent Turkish procurement of a [China Precision Military Import and Export Corp.] missile defense system and ensure NATO will never allow such a system to be integrated into NATO's security architecture," say a group of GOP senators in a letter drafted for submission, possibly on Friday, to Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
Turkey, as a NATO member, is participating in the alliance plan to build a ballistic-missile shield that would cover all NATO territory. While the United States is supplying most of the critical assets for the shield, other member states are expected to augment it by enhancing and inter-connecting their own domestic antimissile capabilities. Ankara maintains it has the sole right to decide which missile-defense system to buy. "It is definitely, it’s going to be national capability first and foremost, and it’s going to be a national decision," Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Levent Gumrukcu was quoted by Voice of America as saying this week. Ankara insists the FD-2000 would be fully interoperable with other NATO antimissile assets and says it has made this a requirement of any deal with the CPMIEC firm.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Monday said it was critical that all member states’ national missile defenses be inter-operable with one another. Of course, the FD-2000 "will not be inter-operable with NATO systems or collective defense capabilities." but even if the FD-2000 could be integrated with NATO assets, there are still the worries in Congress that the software would be compromised by digital back-doors created by Chinese developers interested on gaining access to alliance data. "Since Turkey is fully integrated into NATO’s missile defense network, such as the NATO Air Defense Ground Environment, we are concerned about the risk of third-country access to NATO and U.S. classified data and technology," reads the senators’ letter to Hagel and Kerry.
The Turkish government said it chose the Chinese system over other antimissile systems offered for sale by U.S., European and Russian manufacturers because at $3.4 billion it is considerably less-expensive and potentially could be co-produced with Turkey, allowing for technology transfer.