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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More