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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid