Washington - President Donald Trump’s team has settled on a sanctions package to punish Turkey for receiving parts of a Russian missile defence system and plans to announce its plan in the coming days, said people familiar with the matter.
The administration chose one of three sets of actions devised to inflict varying degrees of pain under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, the people said, without identifying which set had been chosen. The plan needs Trump’s approval.
One of the people said the intention is to announce the sanctions late next week. The administration wants to wait until after Monday’s anniversary of a 2016 coup attempt against Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to avoid fuelling further speculation that the US was responsible for the uprising, as Erdogan’s loyalists have claimed.
The plan was developed after days of discussions between officials at the State and Defence departments and the National Security Council. It awaits a sign-off by Trump and his top advisers, the people said, requesting anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter. A State Department spokeswoman declined to comment.
Turkey on Friday began receiving parts for the Russian-made S-400 missile system, which the U.S. has said puts at risk the Pentagon’s costliest weapons program, the F-35 fighter jet built by Lockheed Martin Corp. Turkey turned to Russia after failing to reach agreement with the US on defence systems.
The deliveries make it almost certain the Middle East’s largest economy will be subject to punitive U.S. action. By law, Trump needed to pick at least five out of 12 different sanctions - ranging from mild to harsh - under the sanctions act, once delivery was certified.
The administration has been weighing when to punish Turkey, according to a person familiar with the deliberations who asked not to be identified discussing the sensitive situation. Washington is wary of announcing sanctions too close to the anniversary of the July 15, 2016, coup attempt that Erdogan blamed on Fethullah Gulen, an ally-turned-enemy now in exile as a Muslim cleric in Pennsylvania.