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Trump's arms sale to Saudi allows US bomb parts to be built in kingdom: Report

Emergency authorisation enables Raytheon and Saudi Arabia to assemble components of bombs that have been used in Yemen
US President Donald Trump with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC (AFP)

Saudi Arabia could build the precision-guided bombs used to strike Yemen since 2015 as a result of the emergency arms sales the Trump administration pushed through last month, the New York Times has reported.

The emergency authorisation allows American defence giant Raytheon to work with the Saudis to assemble components of Paveway smart bombs in the kingdom, according to the paper, citing details released to the US Congress this week.

Rights groups have condemned the use of American bombs in the Yemen war against civilians, with Human Rights Watch documenting "about 90 apparently unlawful” airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen since 2015. In one strike, a school bus was bombed, killing at least 26 children.

Some of the strikes, according to HRW, may amount to war crimes. 

On 24 May, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, citing tensions with Iran, declared an emergency to force the deals through, bypassing Congress to approve $8bn in weapon purchases to the governments in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.

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This week, US senators from both political parties introduced 22 separate resolutions to try to block the sales, on both humanitarian and national security grounds.

Others have raised concerns that the arrangement would outsource jobs instead of creating them for Americans, an argument used by Trump to justify the arms sales.

It also emerged this week that a senior State Department official, who used to represent Raytheon as a lobbyist, was forced to resign from his role in May after reportedly helping the Trump adminstration with the emergency authorisation.

Earlier this year, Middle East Eye revealed that the US has struck at least $68.2bn worth of arms deals with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which lead the coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognised government ousted from power by the Houthis.

That figure, reflecting deals between US companies and the two countries, was billions higher than previously reported and shows the extent of American involvment in the Yemen war. 

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, three out of every five weapons imported by the coalition since 2017 was US made.

The four-year conflict has triggered what the UN has called the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with over 24 million people, more than two-thirds of Yemen's population, in need of aid. Tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have been killed.