The Trump administration’s deal to sell arms to Middle Eastern countries could allow the Saudis to replicate U.S. precision-guided bombs, The New York Times reported Friday.
The “emergency” deal lets major U.S. defense firm Raytheon Company work with the Saudis to put together control systems, guidance electronics and circuit cards used in Raytheon’s smart bombs, reported The NYT. The U.S. closely guards technology like the smart bombs for national security reasons.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the deal “totaling approximately $8.1 billion to deter Iranian aggression and build partner self-defense capacity” May 24. Many in Congress weren’t happy.
“Few nations should be trusted less than Saudi Arabia,” Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said in a statement on Thursday from The NYT. “In recent years, they have fomented human atrocities, repeatedly lied to the United States and have proved to be a reckless regional pariah. It is concerning and irresponsible for the United States to continue providing them arms.”
Senators including Paul, Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and Democratic New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez said Wednesday they will introduce 22 separate measures disapproving of the deal, reported The NYT. The deal involves 22 arms transfers.
The administration released a bundle of information about the arms sales to Congress Monday, reported The NYT. Congress has informally blocked selling smart bombs to the countries since May 2018 because of concern that the Saudis were using them in the conflict in Yemen that began in 2015.
Raytheon said the deals are business as usual.
“Local work share is a common practice used in the majority of aerospace and defense exports around the world. Raytheon has a number of international co-production arrangements in place, all of which are approved in advance by the United States government in full compliance with [International Traffic in Arms Regulations] regulations,” Raytheon spokesman Mike Doble told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an email. “We would anticipate starting approximately 24 months after we receive manufacturing license approval from the U.S. government.”
The pending arms deals come as Iran is taking a “step back” after seeming to prepare an attack on U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf region, Gen. Frank McKenzie, who commands American forces in the Middle East, said Thursday.
“I don’t actually believe the threat has diminished,” McKenzie said, according to The Associated Press. “I believe the threat is very real.”
Allegedly Iran-linked incidents have caused alarm in recent weeks. The incidents include the alleged sabotage of four oil tankers in the Persian Gulf in May.
The damaged ships were Saudi, Norwegian and Emirati, according to The Washington Post. United Nations ambassadors from those countries communicated with UN Security Council members Thursday. They said their investigators believe an unknown country sent divers to plant mines on the vessels, reported The AP.
However, Saudi ambassador to the UN Abdallah Al-Mouallimi said this week Iran was to blame for the sabotage.
The White House did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.
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