July 18, 2019 / 9:28 PM / 4 months ago

Republican U.S. senator plans resolution urging Turkey sanctions -document

WASHINGTON, July 18 (Reuters) - Republican Senator Rick Scott plans to unveil a resolution on Thursday calling for sanctions against Turkey after its purchase of a Russian air defense system, increasing pressure on U.S. President Donald Trump to take action against the NATO ally.

Ankara began accepting delivery of an advanced Russian missile defense system last week, prompting the White House to announce it was removing Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet program.

But Trump’s administration has stopped short of imposing sanctions on Turkey, despite a law aimed at preventing countries from purchasing military equipment from Russia, known as CAATSA. Trump has not been clear on whether his administration is considering doing so.

If approved, Scott’s resolution would call for “full implementation of sanctions under CAATSA,” describing Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 air and missile defense system as a “direct and dire threat” to U.S. security interests.

The sanctions law, which Trump signed in 2017, mandates that the president choose five among a range of 12 sanctions, from banning visas and denying access to the U.S.-based Export-Import Bank to harsher options such as barring transactions with the U.S. financial system and denying export licenses.

However, CAATSA does not set any timeline for imposing sanctions or issuing a waiver, so Trump could delay indefinitely.

A draft of the proposal, seen by Reuters, calls for the Trump administration to convene talks at NATO to discuss threats posed by Russia and mull Turkey’s continued inclusion in NATO.

While resolutions have no force of law, passage of such a measure in the Republican-controlled Senate could amp up pressure on Trump to crack down on Ankara.

Scott’s resolution also slams Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan for taking the country “down a path of authoritarianism and human rights abuses,” aligning itself with radical Islamist militant groups and agitating against U.S. ally Israel. (Reporting by Alexandra Alper; editing by Patricia Zengerle and Alistair Bell)

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