Turkey is highly likely to sign a deal to co-produce a missile defense system with a Chinese firm under U.S. sanctions after it placed the lowest bid of $3.44 billion in a tender, a senior defense ministry official said on Thursday.
Murad Bayar, Undersecretary of Defense Industries at the Defense Ministry, told reporters in Ankara that Turkey could finalize the deal with China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp (CPMIEC) within six months.
The United States has expressed "serious concerns" over North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member Turkey cooperating with CPMIEC, under sanctions for violations of the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Act.
Bayar said Turkey was not sharing any information on NATO defense systems with China and that, if the deal went ahead, almost all production would take place in Turkey.
NATO sources have said Turkish collaboration with China on the system could raise questions of compatibility of weaponry and of security. For China, it would be a breakthrough in its bid to become a supplier of advanced weapons.