The deal is likely to face strong headwinds in the U.S. Congress stemming from civilian deaths in Saudi Arabia’s campaigns in Yemen.
According to sources familiar with the matter at hand, Saudi Arabia has agreed to purchase precision guided munition worth $7 billion from U.S. defense contractors, which include Boeing Co and Raytheon Co
The deal is part of a $110 billion weapons agreement that coincided with President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia earlier in May.
Both companies declined comment on the sale of the smart munitions.
The U.S. State Department has yet to formally notify Congress of the precision guided munitions deal. Arms sales to members of the Gulf Cooperation Council and to the Kingdom have become a contentious issue due to the mounting civilian deaths in Saudi Arabia’s campaign in Yemen.
The U.S. Congress will have to approve the sale.
“We do not comment to confirm or deny sales until they are formally notified to Congress,” said a State Department official while adding that the U.S. government will take into account factors “including regional balance and human rights as well as the impact on the U.S. defense industrial base.”
Although Prince Khalid bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Washington, declined to comment on the specific sale, he however said his country will follow through on the agreements that were signed during Trump’s visit.
He went on to add, while Saudi Arabia has traditionally chosen the U.S. for weapons purchases, “… Saudi Arabia’s market selection remains a choice and is committed to defending its security.”
Trump wiews weapon sales as key to job creation in the U.S. Since taking office in January, he has announced billions of dollars in arms sales deals.
As per an official from the U.S. government, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the agreement is designed to span across a decade; it could be years before actual transfers of weapons take place.