Turkey slams US ‘menacing tone’ over F-35 program

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Turkey on Dec. 17 criticized the U.S. over threats to remove it from the F-35 program due to its purchase of the S-400 Russian air defense system.

“We remind once more that the language of threats and sanctions will never dissuade Turkey from resolutely taking steps to ensure its national security,” the country’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“No one should doubt that necessary measures will be taken against these initiatives targeting Turkey,” it added.

Underlining that the bill demonstrated the U.S. “disrespecting Turkey’s sovereign decisions,” it said: “The Congress persists in adopting an irrational hostile attitude by unfairly blocking our participation to the F-35 program despite Turkey having fulfilled all its obligations.”

Furthermore, attempts to lift the U.S. arms embargo on the Cyprus island in favor of the Greek Cypriot administration will have no outcome other than hampering efforts towards a settlement on the island and creating a dangerous escalation, it emphasized.

The U.S. Senate on Dec. 17 overwhelmingly passed Tuesday a massive $738 billion defense spending bill that includes a handful of anti-Turkey measures.

The 86-8 vote now sends the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which is part of a two-piece package that includes a wider government spending bill, to U.S. President Donald Trump to be signed into law, which he is expected to do shortly. The House passed the legislation earlier on Dec. 17.

The defense spending bill was packed with additional measures aimed at Turkey that include a prohibition on transferring the fifth-generation F-35 joint strike fighter, or its parts, to Turkey over its purchase of the Russian S-400 anti-air missile system, and calls for Trump to implement sanctions on Turkey over the acquisition under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

It further provides the Pentagon with some $30 million to purchase the F-35 aircraft initially bought by Turkey.

Turkey’s acquisition of the advanced Russian air-defense system prompted the Trump administration to remove Turkey from the F-35 program in July. The U.S. maintains that the system could be used by Russia to covertly obtain classified details on the jet and is incompatible with NATO systems.

Turkey, however, counters that the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems and would not pose a threat to the alliance.

The defense spending bill further lifts the U.S. arms embargo on the Greek Cypriot administration of southern Cyprus, and imposes sanctions on vessels used to construct the Turkstream and Nord Stream 2 pipelines.

Hurriyet  Daily News

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