U.S. delays Persian Gulf arms-sale plans
WASHINGTON – A major arms-sale package that the Bush administration is planning to offer Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf allies to deter Iran has been delayed because of objections from Israel, which says that the advanced weaponry would erode its military advantage over its regional rivals, according to senior U.S. officials. Israeli officials, including the former defense minister, Shaul Mofaz, have come to Washington in recent months to argue against elements of the planned sales. In particular, the Israelis are concerned about the possible transfer of precision-guided weapons that would give Saudi warplanes much more accurate ability to strike targets, officials said. The American officials would not provide a dollar figure for the planned sales. But one American defense industry executive said that if all the equipment under discussion with the Saudis and other Persian Gulf countries was eventually sold – including tanks, warships and advanced air defense systems – the deal could run from $5 billion to $10 billion. The Israeli complaints have introduced a new uncertainty into the administration’s plan to beef up Persian Gulf militaries as a bulwark against Iran and as a demonstration that, no matter what happens in Iraq, Washington remains committed to the Sunni Arab governments around the region. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!