Turkey stunned U.S. officials in September when it reached a provisional deal worth up to $3.4 billion with a Chinese company blacklisted in the United States to build Turkey’s first long-range air and missile defense system. Monday, Congress drew a line in the sand over it: If the 2014 U.S. defense spending bill goes through as proposed, it will ban the use of U.S. funding to integrate Chinese missile defense systems with U.S. or NATO systems, effectively making it impossible for Turkey to operate Chinese equipment with many partner nations.
The provision is one of many hardball tactics in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and is clearly aimed at short-circuiting Turkey’s plan. Turkey, which entered NATO in 1952, indicated it favored the Chinese company, China Precision Machinery Export-Import Corporation, in part because some components would be built in Turkey, providing a boost to the country’s economy. U.S. and NATO officials strenuously objected to Turkey’s plan, warning that Turkish companies involved in building components for the Chinese system could face U.S. trade sanctions. They also said the Chinese and U.S. systems wouldn’t work together.
“If they select a system that’s not inter-operable, that’s their choice,” Heidi Grant, the U.S. Air Force’s deputy undersecretary for international affairs, told Reuters last month in an interview. “They’ve chosen not to be inter-operable. Our role is to make sure they’re informed of our recommendation of the best systems to be inter-operable with the U.S.”