Mnuchin: US considering sanctions on Turkey over S-400 air defense system

The U.S. treasury secretary did not specify any potential Turkish targets.

By World Israel News Staff  

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Monday that the Trump administration is considering the imposition of sanctions on Turkey over its purchase of the Russian-made S-400 air defense missile system but that no decisions have been made, Reuters reports.

“We’re looking at that, I’m not going to make any comments on any specific decisions, but we are looking at it,” Mnuchin told reporters outside the White House when asked if the Treasury was considering such sanctions, according to the news agency. He did not specify any potential targets, it said.

In June, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper made it clear to Turkey that it would face economic sanctions if it goes ahead with the purchase of the Russian missile defense system.

At the time, Esper met with Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar during a NATO meeting, delivering the message that if Turkey bought the Russian S-400 system, it would not be allowed to buy the high-tech F-35 fighter jet.

In July, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Ankara is ready to take counter-measures if the United States imposes sanctions over the delivery of the S-400 system.

“We would like our relations to continue as two NATO partners. But if they display a hostile attitude towards us, we will take counter-measures,” the Turkish foreign minister said on TGRT television, as cited by the Russian Tass news agency.

“The Russian-made S-400s are more advanced air defense systems compared to the American Patriots,” said the Turkish foreign minister, Tass reported.

The United States says that the S-400 system is not compatible with NATO defenses and poses a threat to Lockheed Martin’s F-35 ‘stealth’ fighter jet, said Reuters.

In late June, the Ankara-based Anadolu news agency reported that the head of a Russian arms export company had told the Russian Interfax news agency that “all preliminary measures for the delivery” of the S-400 missile defense systems to Turkey were complete.

“Russia received payment for the air defense missiles, manufactured the hardware and completed the training of the Turkish military personnel who would operate them,” said the arms exports chief in the Interfax interview as cited by Anadolu.

Ankara then received its first shipment in July, and Russia delivered a second battery in August, according to Interfax, which cited Russian President Vladimir Putin, reported Reuters.

The dispute over the air defense missile system is one of several issues straining ties between the United States and Turkey, including the ongoing conflict in Syria, among others, Reuters added.

Associated Press contributed to this report.