Trump administration may use Iran threat to sell bombs to Saudis without Congress' approval - senator

By Patricia Zengerle WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump's administration plans to use a loophole and rising tensions with Iran to sell bombs to Saudi Arabia, even though Congress blocked such sales for months over concerns about civilian deaths in the war in Yemen, Senator Chris Murphy said on Wednesday

Reuters May 23, 2019 07:05:56 IST
Trump administration may use Iran threat to sell bombs to Saudis without Congress' approval - senator

Trump administration may use Iran threat to sell bombs to Saudis without Congress approval  senator

By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump's administration plans to use a loophole and rising tensions with Iran to sell bombs to Saudi Arabia, even though Congress blocked such sales for months over concerns about civilian deaths in the war in Yemen, Senator Chris Murphy said on Wednesday.

"I am hearing that Trump may use an obscure loophole in the Arms Control Act and notice a major new sale of bombs to Saudi Arabia (the ones they drop in Yemen) in a way that would prevent Congress from objecting. Could happen this week," the Democratic senator warned on Twitter.

Congressional aides said there are provisions of the Arms Control Act, which sets rules for international arms transactions, that would allow a president to approve a sale without congressional review in case of a national emergency.

In this case, they said the Republican president would cite rising tensions with Iran as a reason to provide more military equipment to Saudi Arabia, which he sees as an important U.S. partner in the region. Trump has touted arms sales to the Saudis as a way to generate U.S. jobs.

Trump previously declared an influx of immigrants a national emergency to bypass Congress and get $6 billion to build his wall along the Mexican border. Both Democrats and his fellow Republicans voted to block the move, forcing Trump to issue the first veto of his presidency.

It was not immediately clear what equipment would be sold to Saudi Arabia or when any sale might go ahead.

However, any such plan would run into resistance in Congress, from Trump's fellow Republicans as well as Democrats like Murphy, even in the Senate, where Republicans have a slim majority.

A handful of Republicans recently voted with Democrats in a failed effort to override Trump's veto of a resolution that would have ended U.S. support for the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen's devastating civil war.

Many lawmakers from both parties have also expressed anger over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi consulate in Turkey.

Senator Lindsey Graham, one of Trump's closest congressional allies, told CNN he would oppose the administration if it decided to go around Congress, citing Khashoggi's killing.

"We are not going to have business as usual until that issue is dealt with," Graham said.

The State Department declined comment. The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

The top Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committees, who review major international weapons deals, have been approving sales of defensive military equipment to Saudi Arabia.

But they have been putting "holds" - or blocking - the sale of offensive weapons like bombs, anti-tank missiles, small-diameter rockets and large mortars.

Senator Bob Menendez, the ranking Foreign Relations Democrat, has been blocking the sale of Raytheon Co's precision-guided munitions (PGMs) to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for about a year over concerns about the war in Yemen.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Additional reporting by Mike Stone; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.