News / Middle East

US Announces Saudi Arms Deal Amid Gulf Tensions

Saudi Press Agency file photo shows Saudi soldiers during visit by King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz to Jizan Province, 2 December 2, 2009.
Saudi Press Agency file photo shows Saudi soldiers during visit by King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz to Jizan Province, 2 December 2, 2009.

The United States Thursday announced a major aircraft sale to Saudi Arabia amid tensions in the Gulf over Iran’s threat to close the Strait of Hormuz if nuclear sanctions against it are tightened. The State Department said the threat reflects recent “irrational” behavior by the Tehran government.

The nearly $30 billion sale to Saudi Arabia of advanced-model U.S. F-15 fighter jets and associated weapons systems had been planned for more than a year.

But the elaborate formal announcement of the sale was a pointed reminder of U.S. support for a key regional ally, just as Iran is stirring tensions in the Gulf with its threat against the critical shipping route.

Iran threatened earlier this week to close the strait of Hormuz if U.S.-engineered international nuclear sanctions sought to target its central bank and cripple its oil exports.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet based in the Gulf said Wednesday the United States is always ready to counter hostile actions to assure freedom of navigation, and a Navy aircraft carrier passed through
the strait as Iran conducted naval exercises.

At a news briefing, Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro said the F-15 deal is designed to help Saudi Arabia “address threats to its sovereignty,” from Iran and elsewhere. “As you know the Middle East right now, there are a number of threats. They (Saudi Arabia) have had border security issues, they’ve had threats in the Gulf as well. Clearly one of the threats that they face, as well as other countries in the region, is Iran. But this is not solely directed towards Iran. This is directed towards meeting our partner Saudi Arabia’s defense needs," he said.

Under the arms package, Saudi Arabia will acquire 84 top-of-the-line F-15 model SA aircraft while 70 F-15’s already in the Saudi inventory will be upgraded to a similar capability.

Associated weapons systems in the package include Harpoon anti-ship and Harm anti-radar missiles that could conceivably figure in a military crisis that threatened Gulf navigation.

Despite the blunt U.S. Navy warning, Iran has repeated its threat about the strait, saying it was capable of closing the waterway quickly and that the United States “is not in a position” to thwart Iranian actions.

Under questioning Thursday, State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the Iranian statements may mean that sanctions, aimed at getting Iran to meet international nuclear obligations, are beginning to have a serious impact.

"I can’t get inside Iranian heads. I wouldn’t want to even if it were appropriate from this podium. But you know, we’ve seen quite a bit of irrational behavior from Iran recently. One can only guess that the international sanctions are beginning to pinch, and that the ratcheting up of pressure, particularly on their oil sector is pinching in a way that is causing them to lash out," he said.

The Obama administration first notified Congress of the pending F-15 sale to Saudi Arabia in November of 2010 and there was no legislative move to block it.

The State Department’s Andrew Shapiro said under an act of Congress, all U.S. arms sales in the Middle East must be evaluated as to their impact on Israel’s security. He said U.S. officials are satisfied the aircraft sale is not detrimental to Israel’s “qualitative military edge.”

The White House said in a statement the arms sale, to be implemented over the next decade, will support more than 50,000 U.S. jobs in 44 states.

You May Like

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid