Turkey will permit the United States to reopen four strategic intelligence installations for monitoring Soviet military activities that were shut down three years ago in retaliation for the U.S. arms embargo against Turkey.
The decision by Turkey's National Security Council was disclosed by the Turkish press yesterday. A formal government announcement is expected today.
The move follows the repeal last week of the congressional ban on the sale of U.S. arms to Turkey. It opens the way for a full resumption of bilateral military cooperation and strengthening of NATO defenses in the Mediterranean.
The four installations include facilities regarded as being as exceptional intelligence gathering value because their long-range radar and other sophisticated gear are capable of tracking Soviet missile activity over wide areas of the Ukraine, Central Russia and Soviet Central Asia.
In opposing the embargo imposed after Turkey's 1974 invasion of Cyprus, U.S. officials insisted that the facilities are of enormous value to national security. Among other things they were privately described as providing one of the key means for monitoring Soviet compliance with any strategic arms limitation accord.
Some officials here now concede that the functions of the four bases were partly absorbed by other intelligence facilities. Yet, the reopening of the four bases directed at the Soviet Union is seen as a symbolic move of considerable political importance.
The installations include U.S. electronic surveillance facilities at Sinop, on the Black Sea coast; Diyarbakir, in eastern Turkey near the Soviet and Syrian borders; Belbasi, near Ankara, and at Kargaburun, on the Sea of Marmara.
U.S. sources said part of another American intelligence gatheringfacility located at Karamursel, on the Sea of Marmara, is being turned over to the Turks while some of its operations are currently being phased out as "obsolete."
The sources disclosed for the first time that the five facilities were the only ones to be closed down by the Turks in retailiations of the arms ban. The remaining 21 U.S. installations on Turkish soil, some of them known to house nuclear arms, continued to operate more or less normally" during the past three years, the sources said.
In an effort to bring about the repeal of the congressional ban, both U.S. and Turkish officials have implied repeatedly that the functioning of "most" U.S. installations in Turkey had been suspended in 1975.
The reactivation of the four strategic facilities is believed to be conditional on the conclusion of a new Turkish-American military cooperation agreement.
U.S. officials who said the reactivation of the four installations "is a very helpful gesture," said the Carter administration was interested in restoring "normal" Turkish-American relations.
This in turn would enable the Turks to seek a solution of the Cyprus problem without "psychological impediments" posed by the embargo restrictions, they said.
Congress voted the embargo in 1975 on the ground that Turkey used American-supplied weapons in the invasion of Cyprus American law says U.S. arms are to be used only for defense of a country.
The embargo, however, has not been absolute. The Ford administration sought to circumvent the ban through NATO; moreover, more than $600 million in U.S. military aid has gone to Turkey during the past three years in an effort to placate the Turks through stopgap measures.
The Turkish government of Premier Bulent Ecevit has indicated that it is prepared to negotiate a new military agreement with the United States. But Ecevit had also made it clear that he wants a broader agreement that would go beyond bilateral security arrangements.
It is not clear how long it would take to reactivate the four installations. The buildings housing sensitive electronic gear have been locked up for more than three years, according to U.S. officials.
"We don't know the condition of some of the equipment," they said.
The reopening of the American installations comes at a time of improved Soviet-Turkish relations.
Turkey is one of the largest recepients of Soviet economic assistance outside the Communist bloc, but Soviet-Turkish cooperation does not extend to the military area.
Special correspondent, JohnLawton in Istanbul contributed to this story.