US Notified Congress of Plans To Sell Arms to Saudi Arabia

By JTA

Published October 21, 2010.

The U.S. Defense Department has notified Congress that it is planning to sell $60 billion in advanced military equipment to Saudi Arabia.

Israel does not object to the sale, the assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, Alexander Vershbow, told reporters during a briefing Wednesday in Washington.

Congress has 30 days to review the deal and could block or amend the sale. This is seen as unlikely, despite the fact that a small group of Congress members oppose the sale. Congress will return from a recess in early November following the midterm elections.

U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) opposes the proposed sale.

“It seems to be rewarding a country that hasn’t been particularly helpful to any of our foreign policy objectives and one that doesn’t seem to be well suited to be a military bulwark against Iran,” he told the Washington Post.

The deal includes 84 new F-15 fighter planes, and nearly 200 Apache, Black Hawk and Little Bird helicopters, as well as upgrades for 70 fighter planes. The deal also would include a satellite-guided “smart bomb” system, as well as anti-ship and anti-radar missiles. It will take five to 10 years to complete the deal, according to reports.

Talks between the United States and Saudi Arabia over the arms sale have been ongoing for months.

Israel recently signed a deal to buy 20 U.S. F-35 joint strike fighter jets.

Andrew Shapiro, assistant secretary for political military affairs at the State Department, told reporters at the briefing that as part of the process, the U.S. conducts an independent assessment of what the impact would be on Israel’s qualitative military edge.

“And our assessment is that this would not diminish Israel’s qualitative military edge, and therefore we felt comfortable in going forward with the sale,” he said.



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