No Israeli access to NATO data: minister

No Israeli access to NATO data: minister

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
No Israeli access to NATO data: minister

Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz. AA Photo

Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz has rejected suggestions that Israel will be given access to data designed to protect alliance members against ballistic missile threats from a rogue nation.

“Any data or information produced by this system will only be available to the alliance, as in the case for other alliance systems,” Yılmaz said in an email message sent to the American defense magazine Defense News last week.

“Information-sharing with non-NATO actors is subject to specific arrangements and it is possible only if the allies consensually agree on it,” he said. NATO agreed in a summit meeting in Lisbon two years ago to devise a missile defense system to protect alliance members from a rogue nation in the area. As part of the system, Turkey agreed to allow the U.S. military to install a special X-band radar at a base in Kürecik in eastern Turkey.

Turkey and Israel bolstered their defense cooperation to a strategic level in the mid-1990s. Israeli defense industry upgraded Turkish F-4 and F-5 aircraft and a group of M-60 tanks. It has also built unmanned aerial vehicles for Turkey. But the former allies have become foes as a result of Turkey’s objections to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

In its lowest point, Israeli commandos killed eight Turks and one Turkish-American in a raid on the Mavi Marmara ship that was leading a flotilla attempting to break the Israeli embargo of the Gaza strip. Turkey last year downgraded diplomatic relations and cut all military ties with Israel as a result of the raid.

Yılmaz also said his ultimate objective as defense minister would be the development of Turkey’s national defense industry.

“The Ministry of National Defense will continue its modernization program ... and will support the national defense industry by following the scientific developments in the world,” he said. Turkey presently builds

most of its Army and Navy equipment, and is improving its Air Force industry.