Monday, 13 September 2010

US Secures Record $60 Billion Arms Sale to Saudi Arabia

THE TELEGRAPH: The United States is selling $60 billion (£40 billion) worth of aircraft to Saudi Arabia in a huge deal that will increase unease about a gathering arms race in the Middle East.

In what is the largest ever US arms sale of its kind, Riyadh has agreed to spend $30 billion up front on top range fighter jets and helicopters, with the rest following at an undisclosed date. The two countries are also discussing an upgrade naval package potentially worth $30 billion, but the timing of that deal is not clear.

The deals are a coup for the Obama administration ahead of the midterm Congressional elections. The aircraft contracts are set to benefit defence manufacturers in 44 states and help to protect 77,000 jobs. Democratic candidates are expected to come under severe pressure in the elections in part because of the US's high unemployment rate.

But the deal will raise concerns about the militarisation of the Gulf states and the Middle East, which in part seems to be being driven by the Iranian nuclear development programme. The rush by Tehran towards nuclear weapons, which it denies but is widely disbelieved, is prompting defence reviews across the whole region. >>> Alex Spillius in Washington | Monday, September 13, 2010