U.S. says sanctions against Turkey ‘very viable’, no disagreement

The United States said imposing economic sanctions on Turkey for its purchase of Russian S-400 missiles remained a very viable option and there was no discord on the issue.

The United States and its NATO allies remain very persistent about offering Turkey an alternative missile system, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Clarke Cooper told reporters during a teleconference on Thursday, according to Reuters.

“Seeking resolution is still within the realm of possible today, but imposition of sanctions remains a course of action and a very viable one at this point,” Cooper said on a visit to Brussels, the news wire reported.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Thursday that he didn’t believe President Donald Trump would approve sanctions against Turkey during the ongoing political dispute, citing their personal rapport. He vowed to retaliate should Washington do so.

“I do not see any possibility of these sanctions happening,” Erdoğan said in Istanbul. The problem is largely with other U.S. officials, he said.

Erdoğan and Trump are due to discuss the issue at a G20 summit in Japan next week.

Cooper said there was no disagreement between U.S. officials or with other NATO members about the issue, Reuters reported.

Turkey’s lira slumped to a record low last August after Trump imposed sanctions on the country for the detention of a U.S. pastor on terrorism charges. The slump in the currency’s value helped spark an economic recession, which last through the remainder of the year.

Turkey will start taking delivery of parts for the Russian system on July 15, Erdoğan said. The United States has previously set a deadline of July 31 for Turkey to back out of the deal. 

The most stringent of sanctions under consideration by Washington would all but cripple the Turkish economy, Bloomberg reported earlier this week citing unnamed U.S. officials. Others would involve targeting Turkish defence firms and barring them from the U.S. financial system.