ANKARA --- Tensions have escalated between two NATO allies after Washington gave Ankara two weeks to decide on its S-400 deal with Russia, threatening to remove the country from the F-35 program. But Turkey has so far dismissed the threats.
The US is threatening its NATO ally with removal from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program and sanctions if Ankara goes ahead with its purchase of Russian S-400 defence system from Moscow.
Anonymous US State Department officials say Turkey has just two weeks to decide on the S-400 issue to avoid facing the consequences, which include its termination from the F-35 program.
“We underscore that Turkey will face very real and negative consequences if it completes its S-400 delivery,” one of the State Department officials said. “NATO countries need to procure military equipment that is interoperable with NATO systems. A Russian system would not meet that standard,” the official added.
But the Turkish defence department has other thoughts about the US threat of removal from the program.
“They cannot kick us out [of] the program, which has the participation of nine countries, without getting the consent of all the members,” a Turkish defence department official said.
“The F-35 program is based on a very comprehensive deal agreed [by nine countries]. Every state loyal to [international] law should be careful [about not violating] this agreement,” Turkish deputy foreign minister Yavuz Selim Kiran Kiran warned.
The Turkish defence official also draws attention to the fact that if Turkey were to be removed from the program, the entire agreement should be renewed or go through another round of approvals in each participant country, which will bring several unnecessary obstacles to implementing the program.
Removing Turkey from the program could be a violation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed among the member states of the program, according to Turkish legal experts. (end of excerpt)
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(EDITOR’S NOTE: A defense policy bill unveiled on Thursday by the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee contains a provision barring the US government from delivering F-35 fighters to Turkey unless the U.S. secretaries of Defense and State “certify [Turkey] has not accepted delivery of S-400 from Russia and has provided reliable assurances it will not do so in the future," Defense One reported.
It quoted a senior aide from the committee saying there was “no wiggle room” for Trump to get around the bill.)