In missile shield talks with the US, Ankara seeks guarantees on Israel
Turkey, in talks with the United States over a proposed missile defense system, has asked US officials whether non-NATO countries would have access to intelligence that sensors in the shield would gather, according to sources close to the negotiations. US officials, in return, have reportedly assuaged Turkish concerns, saying the intelligence will be out of reach for any non-NATO countries, including Israel. Longtime NATO member Turkey has been holding discussions with the US over the proposed missile defense system. Turkey says it is not against the establishment of such a system for NATO's European allies but insists in talks with the US that the project should be built for defensive, not offensive, purposes. Sources said the Turkish argument looks reasonable to US officials. Naming countries a source of threat is difficult in a practical sense, too, because NATO operates by the principle of unanimity, so no non-ally can be classified as a threat if one of the allies is opposed. Sources say even though there might be no formal reference to Iran in any written document, US officials may do so verbally in press statements during the summit. Turkey has also requested participation in decision-making and instant access to intelligence on any missile threat collected by sensors that will be deployed as part of the missile shield. Another issue that came up in the negotiations was whether there would be any ships operating as part of the missile shield in the Black Sea. Ankara says the terms of the 1936 Montreaux Convention, which strictly restricts the passage of non-Turkish military vessels through the Straits, should be respected, meaning that no ship carrying missile defense system elements could pass through the Straits to reach Black Sea. US officials have given assurances on the matter, since the 1936 deal is clear.