Biden administration proceeding with $23 billion weapons sales to UAE

Patricia Zengerle, Reuters

Posted at Apr 14 2021 09:31 AM

F-35 Lightning II pilot U.S. Air Force Captain Kristin "BEO" Wolfe performs the "high-speed pass" maneuver at approximately .95 mach, which is just below the speed of sound, at the 2020 Fort Lauderdale Air Show in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S. November 22, 2020. Picture taken November 22, 2020. U.S. Air Force/Capt. Kip Sumner/Handout via Reuters

WASHINGTON - U.S. President Joe Biden's administration has told Congress it is proceeding with more than $23 billion in weapons sales to the United Arab Emirates, including advanced F-35 aircraft, armed drones and other equipment, congressional aides said on Tuesday.

A State Department spokesperson said the administration would move forward with the proposed sales to the UAE, "even as we continue reviewing details and consulting with Emirati officials" related to the use of the weapons.

The Democratic president's administration had paused the deals agreed to by former Republican President Donald Trump in order to review them.

The Trump administration told Congress in November it had approved the U.S. sale to the UAE, following a U.S.-brokered agreement in September in which the UAE agreed to normalize relations with Israel.

The $23.37 billion package contained products from General Atomics, Lockheed Martin Corp and Raytheon Technologies Corp, including 50 F-35 Lighting II aircraft, up to 18 MQ-9B Unmanned Aerial Systems and a package of air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions.

But some lawmakers criticized the UAE for its involvement in the war in Yemen, a conflict considered one of the world's worst humanitarian disasters, and worried that the weapons transfers might violate U.S. guarantees that Israel will retain a military advantage in the region.

However, Israel said it did not object to the sales.

A legislative effort to stop the sales failed in December, as Trump's fellow Republicans in Congress backed his plans. (Reporting by Patricia Zengerle, additional reporting by Mike Stone; Editing by Mary Milliken and Grant McCool)