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S-400 missile dispute: ‘Washington fears Turkey will pass secrets on to Russia’

The purchase of Russian-made S-400 missile defence systems has driven a wedge between NATO allies Turkey and the US.
The purchase of Russian-made S-400 missile defence systems has driven a wedge between NATO allies Turkey and the US. Vitaly Nevar, REUTERS

Turkey is due to begin testing its Russian missile defence system, despite repeated calls from the United States that it could lead to sanctions. FRANCE 24’s Jasper Mortimer explains why the issue has proved so contentious.

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Turkey's acquisition of the Russian-manufactured S-400 in July was met with consternation by its NATO allies.

The US argues there is a risk that sensitive technological information could be leaked if it is used alongside Western equipment such as the new F-35 jet.

Turkey has ordered 100 F-35s and its defence industry was part of the supply chain for the new jet, until it was kicked off the programme due to the S-400 purchase.

So far, the US has appeared reluctant to impose threatened sanctions on Turkey over the purchase, with officials saying it could be spared if it does not activate the S-400 system – though this option has been rejected by Turkey.

On Tuesday, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkish and US officials would conduct efforts until April to resolve the dispute, broadcaster NTV reported.

Asked how a solution would be found to the row, Erdogan told reporters during his return trip from Qatar on Monday: "There is a process that is ongoing until April. Our defence and foreign ministers will carry out these efforts. We need to see where we get with these efforts."

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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