US gets Israel’s OK for Saudi arms sale
The US says it has sought Israel’s approval before agreeing to a massive arms sale to Saudi Arabia which is to become the largest US arms deal in history.
The United States announced plans to sell the Arab kingdom up to USD 60 billion worth of arms, AFP quoted Andrew Shapiro, assistant secretary of defense for political-military affairs, as saying on Wednesday.
The package is to be delivered over 15 to 20 years and includes 84 F-15 jets, 70 Apache gunships, 72 Blackhawk helicopters, 36 light helicopters and thousands of laser-guided smart bombs.
The enormous package is said by the Pentagon to give Riyadh “a whole host of defensive” and “deterrence capabilities.” The US Defense Department has also made clear that the deal will not affect “Israel’s military upper-hand in the region.”
Tel Aviv and its sympathizers in Washington had earlier voiced concern on US arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
“Our assessment is that this (sale) would not diminish Israel’s qualitative military edge, and therefore we felt comfortable in going forward with the sale,” Shapiro said.
Alexander Vershbow, the US assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, said Washington consulted Israel as the deal took shape.
The US government always consults the Israeli regime on any arms sales to Arab countries as a matter of policy intended to ensure that Israel maintains a military superiority in the Middle East region.
“There have been high-level discussions, as well as working-level discussions. And I think it’s fair to say that, based on what we’ve heard at the high levels, Israel does not object to this sale,” he said.
US President Barack Obama’s administration has reportedly notified Congress of its plans to make the deal and the Capitol now has the authority to amend or delay the agreement.