Pentagon notifies Congress of plans to sell smart bombs to Saudi Arabia
The Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency alerted Congress Tuesday about plans for a $290 million arms sale to Saudi Arabia that would include 3,000 precision guided munitions.
Why it matters: The State Department's approval of the potential deal in the Trump administration's final weeks comes despite President-elect Joe Biden vowing during his election campaign to end weapons sales to the Saudis.
- Biden has accused President Trump of issuing Saudi Arabia with "a dangerous blank check" that the state "used it to extend a war in Yemen that has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis."
Details: Saudi Arabia has requested to buy GBU-39 SDB I munitions, spare parts, U.S. Government and contractor engineering, weapon support, support equipment and other items and services, the Pentagon said in a statement. Boeing would be the principal contractor.
- "The proposed sale will improve Saudi Arabia’s capability to meet current and future threats by increasing its stocks of long-range, precision air-to-ground munitions," the statement said.
- "The size and accuracy of the SDB I allows for an effective munition with less collateral damage. The potential sale will further strengthen the interoperability between the United States and Saudi Arabia."
Of note: The Trump administration's 2019 sale to Saudi Arabia drew bipartisan ire among lawmakers.
- The State Department inspector general found last August that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acted legally when he bypassed Congress to approve the $8 billion in arms sale, but failed to "fully assess risks and implement mitigation measures to reduce civilian casualties" that resulted from the deal.
- The Biden transition team declined to comment on the Pentagon's latest announcement, saying it "would not be appropriate for us to do so during the transition period."
Correction: The estimated cost of the sale is $290 million, not $290 billion.