Congress reviewing sale of precision munitions to Saudis, UAE: sources

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration, working to extend exports of U.S.-made weapons, has requested the U.S. Congress to evaluation the sale of greater than 120,000 precision-guided munitions to allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, sources mentioned on Tuesday.

The U.S. Capitol constructing is seen in Washington, U.S., February 8, 2018. REUTERS/ Leah Millis

President Donald Trump has thrown his political weight behind the arms export push to assist job progress at house. Final 12 months, his administration accepted the sale of about $7 billion of the precision-guided weapons to Saudi Arabia.

That deal raised issues from some members of Congress over American weapons getting used within the Saudi-led marketing campaign towards Houthi rebels in Yemen and the deaths of hundreds of civilians there since March 2015.

The worth of the transactions below evaluation now couldn’t instantly be decided.

Raytheon Co is the biggest maker of the PGMs in the USA. An organization official declined remark.

Administration and congressional sources confirmed that the casual 40-day evaluation interval to promote the munitions to the 2 nations was below manner.

The Senate Overseas Relations and Home Overseas Affairs Committees have been briefed, and lawmakers have requested the administration for extra info, which one congressional aide mentioned had not but been supplied.

Committee spokespeople declined remark.

Saudi and UAE officers didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark. The U.S. State and Protection Departments don’t touch upon deliberate arms gross sales earlier than formal notification is distributed to Congress.

The problem is more likely to come up this week when Trump’s secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, testifies earlier than the Overseas Relations and Overseas Affairs panels for the primary time for the reason that Senate confirmed the previous CIA director in his new place final month.

Trump views weapons gross sales as a approach to create jobs in the USA and has introduced billions of {dollars} in arms gross sales since taking workplace in January 2017.

He has at instances taken a private function in pushing via overseas gross sales of U.S. arms, underscoring his dedication to make the USA, already dominant within the world weapons commerce, a good larger arms service provider to the world, regardless of issues from human rights and arms management advocates.

Key members of Congress, together with the leaders of the 2 committees, are allowed to informally evaluation main overseas arms gross sales, and at instances they’ve objected to gross sales and held them up for months.

Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of Overseas Relations, blocked main gross sales to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and different Gulf nations for a lot of final 12 months over a dispute with Qatar, lifting his “maintain” solely early this 12 months.

Nonetheless, if a president desires a sale to undergo regardless of lawmakers’ objections, it may possibly solely be stopped if Congress passes laws blocking the sale. No such measure has ever handed Congress.

Extra reporting by Yara Bayoumy; Enhancing by Mary Milliken and Cynthia Osterman

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