The Trump Administration played the Iran card saying the deal would protect against “.. growing ballistic missile threat from the Iranian regime and Iran-backed extremist groups.”
According to a spokesman from the U.S. Department of State, Saudi Arabia will purchase Lockheed Martin’s $15 billion missile defense system, following aggressive lobbying by the Trump administration to close the deal that included a personal call from U.S. President Donald Trump to Saudi Arabia’s King Salman.
The spokesman disclosed, U.S. and Saudi Officials had signed the letters of offer and acceptance on Monday thus formalizing the terms for Saudi Arabia’s purchase of 44 Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) launchers, missiles and related equipment.
The deal comes despite rising concerns revolving around the role played by the Saudi leadership in the death of Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi journalist who was a vocal critic of the Saudi government.
Incidentally, the deal had been under discussion since December 2016.
According to the spokesman of the State Department, the deal supports the “long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region in the face of the growing ballistic missile threat from the Iranian regime and Iran-backed extremist groups.”
On Wednesday, in defiance of the stand taken by the White House, the U.S. Senate had voted to advance a resolution to end U.S. military support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen’s civil war, thus setting the stage for a possible final vote on the measure within days.
Significantly, Congressional approval for the THAAD missile defense system sale was given in 2017.