Turkey vows to retaliate against US over sanctions

Turkey vows to retaliate against US over sanctions

TEHRAN - Turkey will retaliate if the United States imposes sanctions over Ankara's purchase of Russian S-400 missile defense systems, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday, adding that any such sanctions would be unacceptable.

“If the United States slaps sanctions, we will respond in kind. A [relevant] step can also be taken with regard to the Incirlik airbase. This is a natural position under these circumstances, not a threat and blackmail,” Cavusoglu told the Turkish news TV channel TGRT Haber.

Cavusoglu stated that President Donald Trump does not want to impose sanctions and added that he did not expect the US administration to take such action.

Trump is expected to hold a meeting Tuesday with GOP senators at the White House to discuss potential sanctions against Turkey. Some Republican lawmakers have called on Trump to enact sanctions on Turkey under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which aims to prevent countries from purchasing military equipment from Russia.

The sanctions law, which Trump signed in 2017, mandates that the president choose five among a range of 12 sanctions, from banning visas and denying access to the US-based Export-Import Bank to harsher options such as barring transactions with the US financial system and denying export licenses.

The foreign minister said the F-35 jet program partners do not agree with US decision to suspend Turkey from the program, noting that Turkey will meet its defense needs elsewhere if Washington does not give Ankara the F-35 jets.

The S-400 will become active early next year, the foreign minister stressed.

Cavusoglu discussed the issue of Turkey's suspension from the F-35 program in a phone call with US counterpart Mike Pompeo on Saturday.