US halts Turkey drone deal as penalty for Iran leak

US halts Turkey drone deal as penalty for Iran leak
Thu Oct 24, 2013 16:48:53

The United States has halted delivery of 10 Predator drones to Turkey to punish Ankara for its reported leaking to Tehran the identities of several Iranians spying for Israel’s notorious Mossad agency despite Turkey’s denial of the alleged disclosure.

“Turkey’s efforts to undermine Israeli operations in Iran provoked a sharp response on Capitol Hill and reportedly led lawmakers to cancel a scheduled shipment of 10 Predator drones, which are used by the Turks to combat terrorism,” conservative US news website the Washington Free Beacon reported Wednesday, citing major Turkish daily Today’s Zaman.
“The US Congress’s rejection of the delivery of 10 Predators to Turkey is interpreted as punishment of Turkey for sharing information about Mossad with the Iranian intelligence service,” the Zaman is further cited as reporting.

The reported development comes despite a flat and immediate denial by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu of an October 16 Washington Post article that alleged that the Turkish government had exposed to Iranian intelligence authorities the identities of “up to 10 Iranians” that had been meeting inside Turkey with their Mossad case officers.

“I am deeply disturbed by reports that Turkey deliberately exposed an Israeli intelligence operation inside Iran, which directly undermines Israel-Turkey rapprochement and Israeli security efforts against Iran,” said Republican Congressman Peter Roskam of Illinois as quoted in the Free Beacon report.

According to the report, the American lawmaker further slammed Turkey for its trade and business ties with neighboring Iran and asked US Secretary of State John Kerry back in April to impose sanctions on a Turkish bank that continued dealing with Iran in defiance of Washington’s trade sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Another reason for Washington’s concerns about Turkey, according to the neo-conservative news website, is its growing defense dealings with China, including its decision to award a USD 3.4 billion missile defense deal to a Chinese contractor instead of major American defense corporations.

The report quoted pro-Israeli defense and foreign policy analyst and former Pentagon advisor Michael Rubin as describing Turkey as an “intelligence vulnerability” to the United States.

“By any objective measure, the United States should consider Turkey a state-sponsor of terror and an intelligence vulnerability,” Rubin was quoted as saying. “Several years ago, Turkey said outright that they wanted to produce their own drones, and so it was sheer negligence that led the administration to transfer technology which the Turks were openly reverse engineering.”

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