Pattaya Daily News

14 September 2010 :: 14:09:35 pm 38630

Iran Stifling Arms Sale to Saudis Biggest Deal in U.S. History

Designed to counter the rise of Iran as a military power in the Middle East the Obama administration is currently seeking the go-ahead on a proposed US$60 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia, according to U.S. defence officials on Monday.
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United States, the 13th of September 2010: The deal would reportedly represent the largest single U.S. arms sale ever approved and would allow Saudi Arabia the opportunity to buy top-line U.S. made helicopters and fighter jets.

Despite exact details of the proposal remaining secret ahead of its planned approval by U.S. Congress, various senior defence officials have reported that the deal would involved the sale of up to 84 new F-15 fighter jets and three types of attack helicopter including the infamous Black Hawk and Apache designs.

Defence officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Pentagon expects Saudi Arabia to initially select approximately US$30 billion worth of aircraft, with options to increase the purchase at a later date. Separately, the Pentagon is also in the preliminary planning stages of another deal with Saudi Arabia, which would see the sale of some US$30 billion in advanced naval technology.

Unlike past Saudi arms proposals, this most current plan is expected to receive minimal opposition in Congress or from U.S. backers of Israel, who have been worried about the destabilisation of Israel’s military dominance previously. Iran is now considered a ‘significant and unpredictable’ threat by Israel, allied Gulf Arab states and the West, who are concerned at the shift of power in the regions military capabilities.

The planned Saudi deal represents realignment in the U.S. defence policies for the Persian Gulf, which has typically focused on Israeli interests and defence capabilities. Along with the Saudi deal, the U.S. has several other arms sales and military operations pending with Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates as well as a repositioning of U.S. military instalments in the region.

Speaking regarding the perceived U.S. realignment in military policies, Jonathan Peled, spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Washington stated, “We have had a close, consistent dialogue about it,” and Israel accepts the U.S. rationale for the sale “even though we are not thrilled about it”. U.S. and other diplomats said Defence Secretary Robert Gates laid out the reasoning behind the proposed Saudi sale during meetings with Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak in recent months.

Washington plans to counterbalance the sales to Arab nations with $30 billion in military assistance to Israel over 10 years. Israel is buying about 20 advanced American F-35 fighter jets worth $4 billion, to be funded by U.S. military aid to the country.

Reporter : John Weston   Photo : Internet   Category : World News

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