Turkey to Retaliate if US Halts Weapons Sales

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (file photo)

Turkey will retaliate if the U.S. enacts a proposed law which would halt weapons sales to Ankara, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said.

A report on Sunday from the Reuters news agency claimed that U.S. lawmakers in the House of Representatives released details of a $717-billion annual defense policy bill, including a measure to temporarily halt weapons sales to Turkey.

In an interview with broadcaster CNN Turk, Cavusoglu said that this was “not fitting” between NATO allies.

“If the United States imposes sanctions on us or takes such a step, Turkey will absolutely retaliate,” Cavusoglu said. “What needs to be done is the U.S. needs to let go of this.”

The proposed U.S. National Defense Authorization Act would ask the Defense Department to provide Congress with a report on the relationship between the U.S. and Turkey, and would block the sale of weapons until the report was complete.

Turkey plans to buy more than 100 of Lockheed Martin’s (LMT.N) F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets, and is also in talks with Washington over the purchase of Patriot missiles, Reuters says.

However, in December, Turkey signed a deal with Russia to purchase two batteries of the S-400 surface-to-air missile system. This technology cannot be used by other NATO members and unless Ankara is excluded from upcoming NATO countermeasures briefings, Russia could be the beneficiary of vital Western intelligence.

This has prompted NATO officials to caution Turkey against buying technology from outside the alliance.

Cavusoglu was quoted as telling the U.S.: “Turkey is not a country under your orders, it is an independent country… Speaking to such a country from above, dictating what it can and cannot buy, is not a correct approach and does not fit our alliance.”