U.S. will not sell F-35 jets to Turkey - Trump
This story has been updated.
U.S. President Donald Trump said the U.S. had been placed in a “very tough situation” but the country will not sell F-35 jets to Turkey in his first mention of the matter since delivery for the Russian S-400 defence systems to Turkey started on July 12.
During the cabinet meeting on Tuesday, President Trump said the U.S. will not sell Turkey the F-35 advanced stealth fighter jets. "It is a very tough situation that they're in. And it is a very tough situation that we've been placed in the United States," said Trump: “We'll see what happens, but it's not really fair.”
Trump mentioned the refusal of Turkey’s request to buy the U.S.-made Patriot missile systems during Barack Obama’s term in the White House, and said Turkey was “forced to buy” the S-400 system.
President Trump’s nominee to become the Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said on Tuesday that Turkey can’t have both the Russian S-400 air defence systems and the F-35 stealth fighter jets, reported Reuters, as the acquisition of the S-400 fundamentally undermines the capabilities of the F-35.
The U.S. Congress has repeatedly stated an intention to level sanctions at Turkey over the S-400 purchase through the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). The possible sanctions include a visa ban, denial of export licenses and the blocking transactions with the U.S. financial system. The U.S. has already stopped training for Turkish jet pilots in the F-35 program.
In an earlier speech on Tuesday morning, Turkish Defence Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu insisted that the S-400 systems “don’t pose a threat against NATO systems including the F-35”, and that the missile systems’ control will be at Turkey’s hands. “There is no need for unnecessary tensions, this is a done deal,” said Minister Çavuşoğlu and added that NATO allies can purchase the systems they need for their own defences from wherever they wish.
The U.S. State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said that the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the president "examining all of the options that are in the CAATSA legislation," adding that the U.S. has been "pretty clear about the ramifications" of the S-400 purchase in the past. One of those ramifications is not selling the F-35 to Turkey, spokesperson said.
Ortagus, when asked about the which sanctions may apply, said "we don't preview sanctions in advance but the Secretary is working and reviewing those sanctions."
Spokesperson also said that the Sectary and the president will do whatever the U.S. laws require. Ortagus also dismissed the question about the "work around" of the sanctions, said CAATSA sanctions are well known.
On Monday, Pompeo said that the president will bring sanctions because the U.S. law requires.
Pres Trump says US won't sell any F-35 fighter jets to fellow NATO ally Turkey because of it's purchase of the Russian S-400 missile system. Calls it "a very tough situation," but the US is working through it. "We'll see what happens, but it's not really fair.”— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) July 16, 2019
Via pool: pic.twitter.com/rxvwAoaen5— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) July 16, 2019