- President Donald Trump’s administration is allowing the US military defence contractor Raytheon to work with Saudi Arabia to develop high-tech parts for smart bombs, The New York Times reported.
- The provision, which has not been previously disclosed, is part of a broader national-emergency declaration the Trump administration issued last month to bypass Congress and sell weapons to Saudi Arabia.
- The US has sold smart bombs to the Saudis under Trump and previous administrations, but it has closely guarded the technology used to build the bombs for national security reasons.
- Trump’s decision to grant the Saudis access to that process has raised red flags among lawmakers and experts who say it could lead to Saudi Arabia developing smart bombs on its own using US technology.
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President Donald Trump’s administration is allowing Raytheon, a US military defence contractor, to work with Saudi Arabia to build high-tech bomb parts, The New York Times reported Friday.
The provision was included in the national emergency declaration Trump officials issued last month to bypass Congress for 22 separate arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates totaling $US8.1 billion.
According to The Times, the previously unreported stipulation allows Raytheon and the Saudis to build high-tech parts like control systems, circuit cards, and guidance electronics used to make smart bombs.
Although the US has sold smart bombs and other weapons to the Saudis under Trump and previous administrations, it protected the high-tech development process for national security reasons.
Trump’s decision to allow Raytheon to work with the Saudis to actually build the bombs has raised red flags among lawmakers and national-security experts who say it could soon lead to Saudi Arabia making its own smart bombs using US technology.
Human rights groups and lawmakers like Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut have decried the use of such technology in the bloody Yemen war, the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
In one instance last August, Murphy slammed the US for its involvement in the matter after a Saudi-led coalition airstrike hit a school bus and killed dozens in northern Yemen.
At least 43 were killed in the airstrike and 63 more were wounded, CNN reported. Many of the victims are believed to be under the age of 10 and were on their way to summer camps.
“US bombs. US targeting. US mid air support. And we just bombed a SCHOOL BUS. The Saudi/UAE/US bombing campaign is getting more reckless, killing more civilians, and strengthening terrorists inside Yemen,” he tweeted.
“We need to end this – NOW,” Murphy added.
Former President Barack Obama banned the sale of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia in December 2016 over concerns about civilian casualties that administration officials attributed to poor targeting.
But Trump reversed the decision, over Congress’ objections, with his national emergency declaration last month. Since Trump took office, there’s been a rift between him and US lawmakers – including many Republicans – over his continued efforts to do business with the Saudis.
That fracture deepened when Trump continued defending Riyadh after US intelligence reportedly concluded that the Saudi crown prince ordered the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, a US citizen and Washington Post columnist, last October.
Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia revealed on Tuesday that Trump’s administration approved the transfer of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia at least twice since Khashoggi’s murder.
The first of the two approvals was on October 18, two weeks after Khashoggi’s death, Kaine’s office said in a statement. The second was on February 18. The Trump administration has approved a total of seven nuclear technology transfers to Saudi Arabia since December 2017.
On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of seven senators announced the introduction of 22 separate Joint Resolutions of Disapproval to “protect and reaffirm Congress’ role of approving arms sales to foreign governments.”
The group included Democratic Sens. Bob Menendez, Chris Murphy, Patrick Leahy, and Jack Reed, and Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham, Rand Paul, and Todd Young.
Their move came in response to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s declaration of last month’s emergency to sell weapons to the Saudis and UAE.
Congress’ effort to challenge Trump on arms sales to the Saudis comes after legislators in April passed a resolution to end US support for Saudi Arabia in Yemen, a move partially inspired by Khashoggi’s death. Trump vetoed the measure.
CNN also reported on Wednesday that lawmakers recently learned that the US had intelligence indicating that the Saudis have escalated their ballistic missile program with China’s help. The Trump administration reportedly didn’t disclose that intelligence to Congress during regular briefings, which infuriated lawmakers.
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