Israel's move to agree to consult with the United States before attempting to sell weapons technology to other nations may complicate Turkish-Israeli deals, analysts say. WASHINGTON/ANKARA Exclusive by TDN Defense Desk A recent defense accord under which Israel pledges to consult with the United States in advance on arms exports to third countries may diminish the Jewish state's role as an attractive defense equipment supplier for Turkey and complicate future deals, analysts say. The document, signed Aug. 16 by U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in Washington and Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz in Israel, aims to remove spats between the two close allies over Israel's arms sales -- mainly to China, which is seen as the United States' future strategic rival. Under the deal, Israel has agreed to inform the United States of all its future arms export plans and to take Washington's position into account. Turkish officials so far have declined to comment on the U.S.-Israeli pact, but some analysts pointed to a number of drawbacks for future Turkish deals with Israeli companies. Although the agreement's apparent target is China, it's not very good news for Turkish procurement from Israel, either, said one defense analyst. Since the mid-1990s, when the two countries began to develop their strategic partnership, Turkey has seen Israel as a good alternative to Western suppliers in terms of defense equipment acquisition. The Turks thought that if you negotiate a deal well and pay the price, you could buy almost anything from Israel, unlike the case with the United States. In the past 10 years, Ankara has encountered difficulties with Washington over export licenses and technology transfers on several defense deals, and at times the United States has refused to sell some critical equipment. With the business-minded Israelis, the Turks knew that they would confront no such problems, politics was not a matter of dispute. And Turkey believed that it could buy from Israel a number of items that it wouldn't be able to acquire from the United States, the analyst said. But now with the signing of the U.S.-Israeli accord, any major Turkish defense deal with Israel must win Washington's direct, or at least indirect, approval. Also, the secrecy is gone. One example is Israel's radar-finding Harpy drones, any equivalent of which the United States would be unwilling to deliver to Turkey. Turkey and Israel so far have been involved in arms sales and modernization programs worth billions of dollars, including Israeli upgrade of Turkish F-4 and F-5 fighters and M1A1 main battle tanks, purchase of Popeye air-to-surface precision missiles and joint production of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) systems. Another problem concerns competition between U.S. and Israeli companies in Turkish defense programs. In the past, for example, when U.S. firms lost Turkish deals to their Israeli counterparts, they complained about unfair competition, the analyst said. After the signing of the U.S.-Israeli document, it's not clear what will happen in cases where U.S. and Israeli interests are in conflict. One recent example is Turkey's April decision to buy three UAV systems worth $183 million from an Israeli group of Israeli Aircraft Industries (IAI) and Elbit Systems, which was competing against the United States' General Atomics. Possible follow-up agreements may raise the contract's value considerably. The Turkish move angered General Atomics, which said it had found it impossible to comply with the extremely unrealistic terms and conditions demanded by the Turkish government as a condition for accepting a contract to provide (General Atomics') Predator aircraft to meet the requirements. The Turkish contract had called for the payload to be made by a local firm. General Atomics refused to accept technical and financial responsibilities for a critical part a local company would develop, but the Israeli team agreed to the condition. Also, when Turkey three years ago offered a $670 million contract to Israel Military Industries (IMI) to upgrade 170 Turkish M1A1 tanks, the U.S. government and General Dynamics -- the Israeli company's U.S. rival -- were furious because the platforms had been manufactured by General Dynamics and donated by Washington to Ankara in the early 1990s. The U.S.-Israeli agreement may diminish the significance of Israeli deals for Turkey, but the problem is that Turkey doesn't have another option to replace Israel's role, the defense analyst said. The U.S.-Israeli pact came after the Pentagon complained about several potential Israeli sales to China, including an Israeli plan to service spare parts for unmanned Harpy aircraft. The Pentagon regards the Chinese military as a potential long-term adversary and opposes Western countries providing China with military upgrades. The Harpy deal eventually failed. In retaliation, the U.S. Defense Department restricted Israel's access to the Joint Strike Fighter (F-35) program, which aims to create a new multirole jet fighter designed to replace the F-16 for the United States, Israel, Turkey and several European fighter inventories. Turkey is a member of the U.S.-led program's system development and demonstration phase and plans to buy the next generation fighter. Under the new agreement Israel also agreed to exercise greater control over arms exports by restructuring its internal processes for approving them. Several ministries will now work with the Israeli Defense Ministry before those exports are approved, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said. Whitman said the agreement would begin to restore U.S. confidence in Israel's ability to protect sensitive technologies; however, Israel will not immediately be reinstated to the F-35 program. In a statement the Pentagon and Israeli Defense Ministry said the agreement was designed to remedy problems of the past that seriously affected the technology security relationship between our defense establishments and which begins to restore confidence in the technology security area. Whitman said the United States would not have veto power over any possible arms sales, but U.S. officials would be informed and have a chance to express their opinion. But analysts said that despite the Pentagon spokesman's remarks, the consultation mechanism apparently would give major leverage for Washington. The understanding ends the dispute and fully restores the confidence of the United States, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Daniel Ayalon said. He said the understanding did not encompass details of any proposed deal. It deals with principles, Ayalon said. And the major principle is mutual consultation. News reports said Israeli officials fear the agreement is likely to have a negative impact on the country's defense industry because of additional red tape, new problems with third countries in the negotiation process and the loss of secrecy. Last year Israeli companies exported $3.5 billion in weapons. The largest exporters are Israeli Aircraft Industries, Rafael Armament Development Authority, Israel Military Industries and Elbit Systems. China, Turkey and India are among the Israeli defense industry's largest customers. U.S. concern over sales to China has been longstanding. In 2000, even in the absence of the latest consultation pact, the Pentagon effectively vetoed a multi-billion-dollar sale by Israel of Phalcon airborne reconnaissance systems to China.