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One Year After Nobel Peace Prize, Obama Approves £39 Billion Arms Deal

US President Obama is set to sign America's biggest ever arms deal. The Nobel Peace Prize winner has reportedly agreed to the £39billion sale of aircraft and weapons systems to Saudi Arabia, reports The Mail,
PTI September 14, 2010 10:37 IST
PTI
US President Obama is set to sign America's biggest ever arms deal. The Nobel Peace Prize winner has reportedly agreed to the £39billion sale of aircraft and weapons systems to Saudi Arabia, reports The Mail, London.

If approved by lawmakers, the deal could generate more than 75,000 jobs, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Obama administration sees the move as helping America's key ally in the Middle East protect itself against the growing threat from Iran.

Washington analysts also claimed on Monday night that the timing of the deal could help boost the Democrats' chances in the upcoming mid-term elections in November.



 ‘It would mean more jobs and more money coming into the U.S. economy at a time when it sorely needs both,' said one government official.

However, the sale is also likely to raise the hackles of pacifist supporters in Obama's Democrat Party, especially as the President was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year for ‘his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples'.

The Saudis want to buy as many as 84 new Boeing F-15 fighters, upgrade 70 more and acquire three types of helicopters – Apaches, Black Hawks and Little Birds. Congress will be notified about the deal this week, the Pentagon confirmed on Monday night.

But spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan declined to discuss the details of the proposed package. ‘I'm not commenting either way on details until we get the final agreement and notification,' he said.

Production of the aircraft would take place over the next five to ten years. Negotiations are also said to be continuing over naval and missile defence systems that could be worth billions more.



The sale could be blocked on Capitol Hill, but defence experts said any last minute hiccup was unlikely. ‘It's a big economic sale for the U.S. and the argument is that it is better to create jobs here than in Europe,' said one source close to the talks.

Pro-Israeli lawmakers have raised concerns in the past about arms sales to Saudi Arabia amid fears they might affect the balance of power in the Middle East.

But American officials told the Wall Street Journal that the Israelis were comfortable with the proposed sale because the planes will not have certain long-range weapons systems – and Israel is in line to buy a more advanced fighter, the F-35.

Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., said: ‘We appreciate the administration's efforts to maintain Israel's qualitative military edge, and we expect to continue to discuss our concerns with the administration.'