US Lines Up $10b 'Major' Arms Deal with Israel, Saudi Arabia, UAE

Barack Obama with Chuck Hagel, Amman, July 2008 (Paul J Richards/AFP)

US Lines Up $10b 'Major' Arms Deal with Israel, Saudi Arabia, UAE

Deal 'will encounter little opposition from lawmakers'

The U.S. Defense Department will soon finalize a $10 billion arms deal with Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, supplying missiles, warplanes and other tools of war to the nations, the New York Timesreported Thursday.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel's visit to the region next week will be used to finalize the deal, making good on Obama's promises to heavily arm the countries amidst on-going unsubstantiated claims that Iran is attempting to develop a nuclear weapon.

On a trip to Israel last month, President Obama promised that the U.S. would provide even more arms and "security assistance," including advanced military technology, to the country.

As the New York Times reports, Hagel's trip will complete "a year of secret negotiations on a deal that Congressional officials said will be second only to the $29.5 billion sale of F-15 aircraft to Saudi Arabia announced in 2010."

Hagel arrives in Israel on April 20.

Israel's portion of the sale will be paid for by U.S. tax payers, as the U.S. provides more than $3 billion in annual subsidies to the country.

Asked to comment on the New York Times report, an Israeli official told Reuters that Washington "wants to close a major arms deal" with the Saudis and the UAE, and also "wants to preserve Israel's qualitative edge, in parallel."

"The expectation is that the arms sale, which was outlined to Congress on Thursday, will encounter little opposition from lawmakers," the Times adds, "especially from members representing the many districts where defense contractors are concerned about the impact of cutbacks in the Pentagon's own weapons budget."


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