Turkey has since the summer been publicly flirting with a $3.4 billion deal that would see Ankara purchase missile defense assets from the China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp (CPMIEC), a company that among other things is currently under U.S. sanctions for violations of the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Act.
Reaction from Turkey’s NATO allies has been harsh, with a NATO senior diplomat declared that the deal “would certainly leave many of us speechless” and the U.S. expressing “serious concerns.” Domestic reaction has not been much better, and this week the Turkish opposition blasted the government for risking a “rupture” with NATO by pursuing the contract.
Responding to the controversy today, Turkish defense official Murad Bayar doubled down:
“This is a short list and China is in first place. We are going to invite the Chinese, the offer is on the table and we are going to turn this offer into a contract,” Bayar said. “It is highly likely, a great probability, we will sign the contract with the firm we have chosen in first place.”
Bayar told reporters that the deal could finalized in the next six months.
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