Turkey dismisses US warning over S-400 Russian missiles

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dismissed US threats to cancel the sale of high-tech F-35 jets to Turkey, saying his country will move ahead with the purchase of Russian S-400 air-defense missiles. (Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool)
Updated 07 March 2019

Turkey dismisses US warning over S-400 Russian missiles

  • Erdogan has dismissed US threats to cancel the sale of high-tech F-35 jets to Turkey
  • Erdogan also said Turkey could consider purchasing the more advanced Russian S-500 system

ANKARA, Turkey: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has dismissed US threats to cancel the sale of high-tech F-35 jets to Turkey, saying his country will move ahead with the purchase of Russian S-400 air-defense missiles.
In an interview with Kanal 24 television late Wednesday, Erdogan also said Turkey could consider purchasing the more advanced Russian S-500 system in the future.
This week, the top US military commander for Europe, Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, told the US Congress that NATO member Turkey should reconsider its plan to buy the S-400 from Russia or forfeit other future American military aircraft and systems. He said Turkey’s use of the Russian surface-to-air missile defense system would be a threat to the F-35.
It was the latest in a series of warnings the US has made to Turkey over its plans to buy the S-400. The US and other NATO allies have repeatedly complained about the purchase, saying it is not compatible with other allied systems and would represent a security threat.
The issue has aggravated already souring relations with Ankara, including tensions over the war in Syria.
“The S-400 is a done deal, there can be no turning back. We have reached an agreement with the Russians,” Erdogan said. “We will move toward a joint production. Perhaps after the S-400, we will go for the S-500.”
The US had agreed to sell 100 of its latest, fifth-generation F-35 fighters to Turkey, and has so far delivered two of the aircraft. But Congress last year ordered a delay in future deliveries.
In December, the State Department approved the sale of a $3.5 billion US Patriot missile defense system to Turkey.
Erdogan said Turkey could still purchase the Patriot system “if the conditions are suitable, the prices are suitable (and) if we can conduct a joint production.”
Erdogan added that first delivery of the S-400 would be made in July.


Trump, Pence back Iran protests as IAEA seeks answers on uranium traces

Updated 22 November 2019

Trump, Pence back Iran protests as IAEA seeks answers on uranium traces

  • Nuclear watchdog’s top inspector’s visit set
  • Internet only restored in 10% of the country

JEDDAH: US President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday expressed support for anti-government protesters in Iran. 

Trump said Iran is so “unstable” that the government has shut down the Internet so Iranians cannot disclose what he says is the “tremendous violence” occurring in the country.

Trump tweeted Thursday that the Iranian government wants “ZERO transparency” and believes that by shutting down the Internet the rest of the world will not find out about the “death and tragedy that the Iranian Regime is causing!”

Pence, also in a tweet, he said: “As Iranians take to the streets … the Ayatollahs in Tehran continue to use violence and imprisonment to oppress their people. The United States’ message is clear: The American people stand with the people of Iran.”

More than 100 protesters have been killed by security forces, according to Amnesty International. The EU, France, Germany and human-rights organizations have condemned the use of lethal force against the protesters.

The unrest erupted on Nov. 15 after the government announced gasoline price hikes of at least 50 percent. Protests began in several provincial areas before spreading to about 100 cities and towns across the country. They soon turned political, with protesters demanding top officials step down.

On Thursday, the regime began restoring Internet access in Tehran and a number of provinces, following a nationwide shutdown designed to stifle the unrest.

The blockage made it difficult for protesters to post videos on social media to generate support, and to obtain reliable reports on the extent of the unrest.

Internet blockage observatory NetBlocks said the restoration of connectivity in Iran was only partial, covering about 10 percent of the country.

Meanwhile, the UN nuclear watchdog’s top inspector will travel to Tehran next week to demand an explanation of the origin of uranium traces found at an undeclared site, the agency’s acting chief said on Thursday.

It was first reported in September that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had found uranium traces at the site. Tehran said the site is a carpet-cleaning facility.

Two weeks ago, the IAEA confirmed that environmental samples taken at an unspecified site had shown traces of uranium that was processed but not enriched.

“We have continued our interactions with Iran since then, but have not received any additional information and the matter remains unresolved,” acting IAEA Director General Cornel Feruta told a quarterly meeting of his agency’s 35-nation board of governors in Vienna.

Feruta told Iran in September that “time is of the essence” in clearing up the origin of the traces. 

The IAEA has not been convinced by Tehran’s explanations.

“A meeting between the agency and Iran is scheduled next week in Tehran to discuss it further,” Feruta said. “It is essential that Iran works with the agency to resolve this matter promptly.”