United States senators introduce bill to block F-35 delivery to Turkey

United States senators introduce bill to block F-35 delivery to Turkey”

A bipartisan group of senators on Thursday moved to block the sale of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey in response to the detainment of an American pastor charged for terrorism in the country.

The bill, by Republicans James Lankford and Thom Tillis, and Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, comes at a time of deteriorating relations between the United States and Turkey, which has caused increasing concern over it's military campaign against USA backed Kurdish fighters in north Syria.

The bill would also block Turkey's role as a maintenance depot for the aircraft, according to a press release issued by the senators. The first batch of 14 are already purchased, with deliveries scheduled to begin later this year.

"Turkey's strategic decisions regrettably fall more and more out of line with, and at times in contrast to, United States interests".

The Netherlands, Italy, Denmark and Norway are the other European countries buying the F-35, and they may be similarly affected by rows between the U.S. and Turkey over the S-400 and the human rights of pastor Brunson.

"These factors make the transfer of sensitive F-35 technology and cutting-edge capabilities to Erdogan's regime increasingly risky", said Sen Lankford.

Turkey plans to buy more than 100 of the F-35 aircraft.

The bill is the latest attempt from lawmakers to force Turkey to release Brunson, who was jailed 18 months ago after being accused of aiding the Kurdistan Workers' Party in a failed coup attempt against Erdoğan.

The limitations, however, could be waived by the president Trump upon proving to Congress that Turkey is not "taking steps to degrade NATO interoperability; exposing NATO assets to hostile actors; degrading the general security of NATO member countries; seeking to import or purchase defence articles from a foreign country with respect to which sanctions are imposed by the United States; or wrongfully or unlawfully detaining one or more United States citizens".

"T$3 he Turkish government continues to move closer and closer to Russian Federation, as they hold an innocent American pastor in prison to use him as a pawn in political negotiations", Lankford said.

"Erdogan and his government must abide by the rule of law within his own country and overseas, and release Pastor Andrew Brunson and other Americans unlawfully held in Turkey", she said. "Until that occurs, I'll continue to join with Senators Lankford and Tillis to call for punitive action, including blocking the transfer of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter".

Though not specifically stated, the first four points deal nearly entirely with Turkey's planned purchase of S-400 surface-to-air missile systems. This could happen on two fronts: "The export of a jet Turkey helped to finance, alongside continued tensions about the imprisonment of innocent Americans".

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