US to sell bombs to Israel, helicopters to Saudi
WASHINGTON - The United States said Wednesday it plans to sell thousands of bombs and missiles to Israel as well as 10 Seahawk helicopters to Saudi Arabia, in deals worth about $1.9bn each, officials said on Wednesday.
The US State Department informed Congress of the proposed arms sales to two allies in the Middle East that are both wary of Washington's negotiations with Iran over Tehran's nuclear programme.
The planned weapons deal with Israel would provide 3,000 Hellfire missiles, 250 medium-range air-to-air missiles, 4,100 glide bombs and 50 BLU-113 "super penetrator" bombs designed to reach underground sites.
Israel, which has sharply criticised US diplomacy with Iran, has reserved the right to take unilateral military action against Iran to prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons and the bunker buster munitions could be used to strike at buried nuclear sites.
The notification to lawmakers of the planned arms sales came after a report in the Israeli daily Haaretz suggested Washington might expand its military aid to Israel as compensation for a possible agreement between Iran and major powers to curtail Tehran's nuclear work.
Such an arrangement could involve more radar-evading F-35 fighter jets and more missile defence systems, the paper reported.
US officials said the planned sale would "replenish" existing stocks in Israel's arsenal and would not provide the country with new types of weapons.
"The proposed sale of this equipment will provide Israel the ability to support its self-defense needs," according to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.