US senators move to block $650 million arms sale to Saudi Arabia

US senators move to block $650 million arms sale to Saudi Arabia

Three senators announced on Thursday that they are opposing the Biden administration’s first major arms sale to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia because of Riyadh’s involvement in the Yemen conflict.

Republicans Rand Paul and Mike Lee, as well as Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders, introduced a joint resolution of disapproval to block a proposed $650 million in US arms sales to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

While many US lawmakers regard Saudi Arabia as a key Middle East ally, they have criticised the country for its role in Yemen’s civil war, which is widely regarded as one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters. They have refused to approve a number of military sales to the kingdom unless the United States guarantees that the equipment will not be used to murder civilians.

Saudi Arabia has reportedly lobbied hard against extending the mandate of UN investigators who have documented possible war crimes in Yemen by both the Riyadh-led coalition and the Houthi movement, according to activists.

The State Department approved a package that included 280 AIM-120C-7/C-8 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM), 596 LAU-128 Missile Rail Launchers (MRL), containers and support equipment, spare parts, and engineering and technical support from the US government and contractors.

“This sale could accelerate an arms race in the Middle East and jeopardise the security of our military technologies,” Paul said in a statement.

“We should not be rewarding the Saudi government with more arms sales while it continues to wage its devastating war in Yemen and repress its own people,” Sanders said in the joint statement.

The missiles are manufactured by Raytheon Technologies.

According to the Biden administration, only defensive weapons will be sold to the Gulf ally.

A spokesman for the State Department said the sale was approved “is fully consistent with the administration’s pledge to end the Yemen conflict through diplomacy.

” “Saudi Arabia has the means to defend itself from Iranian-backed Houthi air attacks,” he said, referring to the air-to-air missiles.

The approval of a sale by the State Department does not always imply that a contract has been signed.

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