A Turkish Great Wall between China and the US

A Turkish Great Wall between China and the US

Could it be that the Turks do not understand it because it is too obvious? Or do they understand it well but pretend they don’t? 

In 2000, the United States had a very serious dispute with its staunchest ally, Israel. When the crisis was over, with a lot of scars and scratches left behind, Israel was forced to suspend the sale of radar equipment to China. In addition, the Jewish state was obliged to pay millions of dollars in compensation for breach of contract. 

And in 2005, the U.S. imposed sanctions on Israel after a dispute over Israel’s sale of drones to China. The U.S. suspended cooperation on several development projects and froze delivery of night-vision equipment. The famous Harpy drone deal and the development of a new combat aircraft would be terminated. Relations would not resume until Israel agreed to a series of humiliating conditions. The crisis cost Defense Ministry Director-General Amos Yaron his job, along with half-a-dozen high-ranking officials who got their share. 

Last December, the U.S. government determined that the measures detailed in the “Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act” would apply to five Chinese, two Belarusian, two Iranian, two Sudanese, one Syrian and one Venezuelan companies, including China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp. (CPMIEC), the front-runner in a $3.44 billion contract for the construction of Turkey’s first long-range air and missile-defense shield. 

The U.S. sanctions on this list of 13 companies and their officials, as issued on Feb. 5, include a ban on any procurement of goods, technology or services; participation in any assistance program; as well as sales of any defense articles, defense services, or design and construction services under the (U.S.) Arms Export Control Act. 

It was precisely for the Public Notice 8184 of the U.S. Department of State that U.S. Ambassador to Ankara Francis Ricciardone warned after the Sept. 26 Turkish decision to select CPMIEC to build Turkey’s air-defense architecture that there could be serious consequences for Turkey’s defense companies. 

Several Turkish officials queued up to quickly issue a rebuttal, saying their choice of contractor for the 
air-defense and anti-missile system had been blacklisted by the U.S. for alleged breach of proliferation-control regimes. The U.S. embargo was a matter for U.S. companies, not Turkish ones. But things may not be that simple. 

The companies listed in the Public Notice 8184 are considered to have transferred technologies related to long-range missiles and/or weapons of mass destruction to North Korea, Iran and/or Syria, the latter, ironically, being Turkey’s nemesis. 

Basically, the U.S. laws apply to U.S. officials, citizens and companies. But they may very directly target any entity doing business with the blacklisted companies, including CPMIEC, and/or with the U.S., or using U.S.-controlled technology. Clearly, this is an embargo on any military or dual-use U.S. technology, equipment or know-how to be used in conjunction with any military program where a blacklisted company is involved. 

What does all that mean for the presumably large number of Turkish defense companies that would work with CPMIEC on the air defense program, should an eventual deal be signed? First of all, under U.S. laws, any Turkish company, person or persons involved with CPMIEC’s work in Turkey would face the complete and automatic rejection of any use of U.S. technology or equipment in relation to the air-defense program. 

For instance, no U.S. chips would ever be sold or authorized to be used in any phase of the program which Ankara falsely thinks it can plug in to the allied NATO air-defense architecture. Even equipment that is 100 percent produced by Turkish industry would not be able to use any U.S. component or blueprints if the equipment is in any way a part of the China-related air-defense program. But there is more. 

On Friday…