U.S. Cancels Drone Sales to Turkey Over Intel Disclosure to Iran

The United States has reportedly cancelled the delivery of 10 unmanned Predator drones to Turkey following Ankara’s disclosure of several Israeli intelligence officials operating in Iran, according to Turkish press reports.

In February 2012, the Wall Street Journal reported that Turkey’s state-owned bank, Halkbank, was processing “payments from third parties for Iranian goods.” This included “payments for Indian refiners unable to pay Tehran for imported oil through their own banking system for fear of retribution from Washington.” Separately, the Journal also reported that the Turkish bank was responsible for many of Turkey’s “gas-for-gold” transactions with Iran despite an executive order issued by the Obama administration prohibiting gold payments to the government of Iran. As Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan frankly admitted, Turkey’s “gold exports [to Iran] end up like payments for our natural gas purchases.”

The cancellation of these drones would be another setback for U.S.-Turkey relations, which have cooled in recent months as Ankara grows closer to Hamas and the Iranian regime.

Relations between Turkey and the West hit another speed bump last week when it came to light that Ankara had exposed the identities of up to 10 Iranians working on behalf of the Israelis in 2012.
“This news is particularly concerning in light of Turkey’s ongoing gold exports to Iran and support for the terrorist organization Hamas,” said Roskam, who asked Secretary of State John Kerry in April to sanction a Turkish bank that has reportedly traded gold to Iran in exchange for oil.

Turkey announced late last month that it had awarded a $3.4 billion defense contract to a Chinese firm that has been sanctioned by the United States. The China Precision Machinery Export-Import Corp. (CPMIEC) was selected by Turkish officials to construct an advanced “long-range air and missile defense system,” according to Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News. Turkey selected CPMIEC over competing bids from U.S. defense firms Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, as well as offers from several Russian and French firms, according to the report. CPMIEC has been sanctioned by the United States for allegedly selling advanced weapons to Iran and Pakistan. It also is believed to have sold chemical weapons to Syria. Terrorism experts said that Turkey is close to qualifying as an official state sponsor of terror.
Washington, which is providing technical and intelligence to Ankara in its fight against autonomy-seeking Kurdish rebels, deployed our Predator drones from Iraq to Turkey.

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