U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday said the United States aims to ensure that Turkey does not make its new complement of Russian-built S-400 missile defense system operational, Bloomberg reported.
The first shipment of the S-400 Russian missile defense system arrived in Turkey on July 12, prompting Washington to eject Turkey from its F-35 stealth fighter program. U.S. officials maintain that the S-400 poses a threat, particularly to the F-35 stealth fighter jet, and have repeatedly warned of sanctions if Turkey installs the Russian system.
Prior to the arrival of the S-400 parts, the United States had threatened tough measures against Turkey if it went through with the purchase, but Pompeo’s statement indicated that a new line has been drawn.
“There could be more sanctions to follow but frankly what we’d really like is for the S-400 not to become operational,” Pompeo said Thursday in an interview on Bloomberg Television.
The U.S. Congress has mandated sanctions on Turkey under the terms of a 2017 bill that seeks to prevent countries trading with Russia’s defense industry.
However, recent reports revealed that U.S. President Donald Trump administration is seeking a deal with Turkey rather than immediately imposing sanctions. According to Defense One’s national security correspondent Katie Bo Williams, Senator Lindsey Graham called the Turkish foreign minister and if Ankara does not activate the S-400, the sanctions will not be applied.
When asked about Graham’s call, Pompeo did not give details about the ongoing discussions with Turkey.
“I’m not going to talk about internal deliberations. We’re all working – everyone’s working together to do our best,” Pompeo said.