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Reports: Israel Tries to Block American Missile Sales to Jordan - 2004-08-01

Israel claims the proposed sale of American missiles to Jordan means they could be acquired by other Arab nations, upsetting the strategic balance in the Middle East.

Israeli officials say they are hoping to halt the sale to Jordan of high-tech U.S.-made AMRAAM air-to-air missiles. The advanced AMRAAMS can pinpoint a target before being fired.

Israel media reported Sunday that Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom are both lobbying against the deal.

Israeli officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, say the ministers fear that if the missiles are sold to Jordan, Egypt might also want to purchase the weapons. Both states have peace treaties with Israel.

Israeli officials say that they are concerned at Egypt's determination to arm itself with advanced weapons.

Israeli officials say that if any other state in the region acquires the AMRAAM missiles, it could undermine Israel's claim of military superiority in the region.

Israeli media quoted Israeli military officials saying that having such missiles such a short distance away in Jordan also posed a danger to the Jewish state.

Israel has asked members of the U.S. Congress to delay approval of the arms deal, which is reportedly in its final stages.

This is the first time Israel has tried to prevent Jordan from buying U.S.-made arms since the two countries signed a peace treaty in 1994.