Biden administration debating whether to call military takeover in Myanmar a 'coup'
Posted February 1, 2021 4:33 p.m. EST
Updated February 1, 2021 4:44 p.m. EST
CNN — The Biden administration is having an internal debate over whether to call the military takeover in Myanmar a coup, according to a State Department official and an administration official.
Officially declaring it a coup, which the administration has not yet done in any of their statements on the matter, would legally bind the US to cut off foreign assistance to the country. The State Department legal office is studying this determination and is likely to take the lead on this matter, the officials said.
There is no legal requirement for the US to formally declare a military takeover to be a coup, but the administration will make that determination if they see it in the US national security interest to do so.
Politico was first to report the debate is taking place.
President Joe Biden said in a statement on Monday that the military seizing power and detaining Aung San Suu Kyi over the weekend was a "direct assault on the country's transition to democracy and rule of law" and that it will "necessitate an immediate review of our sanction laws and authorities, followed by appropriate action."
An interagency National Security Council deputy committee meeting will convene on Myanmar Monday afternoon and officials are expected to discuss sanctions they could use to respond to the military takeover, two State Department officials said.
The State Department did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment.
The Biden administration could roll out sanctions as soon as this week, but their decision to pull the trigger will likely be impacted by a thirst to move alongside allies. They are working to get a sense of how quickly other countries want to move alongside them, the officials said.
This story is breaking and will be updated.