US Congress notified on Saudi arms sale
Washington, January 15, 2008
The Bush administration said it had notified Congress of plans to sell Saudi Arabia bomb-guidance kits as part of a multibillion-dollar package of advanced arms to Gulf Arab states.
US officials see the arms sales helping counter growing Iranian military clout.
Amid concerns the bomb kits could threaten Israel, some US lawmakers immediately said they would try to block the sale of the sophisticated weaponry, charging Saudi Arabia is not a "true ally in the war on terror". But it was unclear how far their efforts would advance in Congress.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters the administration had initiated the formal 30-day congressional notification process for the proposed sale of 900 Joint Direct Attack Munitions, or JDAMs, to Saudi Arabia.
The value of the deal was about $120 million, he said, part of an overall package of arms planned to be sold to Gulf states. The deals announced so far amount to about $11.5 billion, McCormack added.
Last year, US officials told lawmakers the total sales under the Gulf arms package could hit $20 billion.
The bomb-guidance kits proposed to be sold to Saudi Arabia are built by Boeing Co and turn unguided bombs into precision munitions with built-in satellite and motion-sensing navigation systems.
Monday's announcement came as President George W Bush visited Saudi Arabia. The president is on a Middle East tour in which he has warned that Iran threatens security around the world by backing militants, and urged his Gulf Arab allies to confront the danger.
But two US lawmakers said they would introduce a "resolution of disapproval" to try to stop the JDAMs sale.
Democratic representatives Anthony Weiner of New York and Robert Wexler of Florida said Saudi Arabia was not a "true US ally in the war on terror" and did not help US interests in the Middle East. - Reuters