Administration

State Dept. approves first major Saudi arms deal under Biden

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The State Department has approved the first major arms deal it has made with Saudi Arabia under President Biden. 

“The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia of AIM-120C Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles and related equipment for an estimated cost of $650 million,” the State Department said in a statement Thursday. 

“The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale today.” 

According to the statement, Saudi Arabia has requested to purchase 280 missiles and 596 LAU-128 Missile Rail Launchers, along with containers and support equipment, spare parts, U.S. government and contractor engineering, and a variety of support services.

While President Biden promised to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” during his campaign, advocates and regional experts have criticized him since taking office for failing to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for the death of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi and allowing the country impunity for other human rights abuses.

“This proposed sale will support U.S. foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country that continues to be an important force for political and economic progress in the Middle East,” the State Department said in the statement.

The statement also said that the deal would “improve Saudi Arabia’s capability to address current and future threats by increasing its stock of medium-range missiles for its fighter aircraft fleet for its national defense.” 

House Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), and Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.) on Wednesday announced the reintroduction of the Arms Sale Oversight Act, which would bring the House’s procedure for reviewing major arms sales into alignment with the Senate’s procedure for the same under the Arms Export Control Act.

Tags arms deals Ilhan Omar Joe Biden Sara Jacobs Saudi Arabia State Department Ted Lieu

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