US frets on nuclear link in Turkey-China missile deal: US Ambassador Ricciardone
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
US envoy Ricciardone (L) speaks to Economy Minister Çağlayan in this photo. The US ambassador said talks surrounding the concerns were ongoing. AA photoWashington is concerned about the involvement of the Chinese winner of a recent Turkish defense contract in nuclear technology, U.S. Ambassador to Ankara Francis J. Ricciardone has said, noting that the United States was conducting talks with Ankara on the issue.
“We are concerned about that [Chinese] company, and its role as a nuclear weapons technology proliferator in the world,” Ricciardone told the Hürriyet Daily News. “This is not a NATO system. China is not a member of NATO. This is one of the issues [at hand],” the ambassador said when asked about the debate on technical capacities, and restrictions on a Chinese system in terms of NATO standards and regulations.
Last week, Turkey announced a decision to choose the FD-2000 missile defense system from the China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp. (CPMIEC) over rival systems from Russian, U.S. and European suppliers.
CPMIEC is under U.S. sanctions for violations of the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Act.
Reiterating a State Department spokesperson’s recent remarks that Washington was following this issue with “great concern,” he said U.S.-Turkish talks surrounding the concerns were still ongoing.
President Abdullah Gül had earlier said the sale was not yet signed, sealed and delivered.
“That purchase is not definite. There is a shortlist, and China is at the top of it. We should look at the conditions, but there is no doubt that Turkey is primarily in NATO,” Gül said in earlier remarks.
When asked about the remarks, the ambassador said he did not want to comment, but added, “He spoke very wisely on many subjects [regarding] the U.S.”
“We are in conversation with the Turkish side. But I’ll hold our discussions in confidence,” Ricciardone said.
No challenge for Turkey’s decision on CPMIEC: Beijing
Meanwhile, the Chinese Ambassador to Ankara, Gong Xiaosheng, welcomed Turkey’s decision to choose CPMIEC, saying he saw no “challenge” in dealing with the Chinese company when asked about recent reactions from the U.S. and NATO.
“This is a Turkish decision. The Turkish government knows [the pertinent] technical details and functions,” he told the Daily News.
“Actually, this Chinese company has already been having talks with the Turkish government for a very long time. This is very good for both sides. I don’t think there is any challenge,” Gong said.
Democratization package very important: Ricciardone
“[The package is] a very important step in Turkey’s road to developing its democracy,” Ricciardone said in reference to a democracy package unveiled by Turkey’s prime minister on Sept. 30.
“It’s a legislative package that allows for an opportunity to debate and discuss. Any step that Turkey takes to strengthen the democratic rights of the Turkish people we support wholeheartedly,” Ricciardone said.
“It shows me that all Turks, whether from the government or opposition, want more and want to develop,” he said.
The ambassador abstained from commenting on the contents of the package and said the Turkish Parliament would decide what needs be done relating to the package.
“There is going to be a rich debate on what this package means, and it has already begun. It’s only the Turkish who can decide what’s right for Turkey,” he said.
“What we hope is that you are going to select higher standards for yourselves. We can see that you’re already doing that for anything that expands the rights of a Turkish citizen. Congratulations on this start. Best wishes on seeing it through for full success,” he said.
System not 'interoperable'
WASHINGTONThe United States reacted Sept. 30 with alarm to news that Turkey has chosen a Chinese company. The United States has “conveyed our serious concerns about the Turkish government’s contract discussions with a US-sanctioned company for a missile defense system that will not be interoperable with NATO systems or collective defense capabilities,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
“Our discussions will continue,” she told reporters.