Trump Lets Raytheon Share Sensitive Bomb-Making Tech with Saudi Arabia

The president is defying Congress, which wants to shut off a flow of U.S. weapons that have been used to kill thousands of Yemenis.

Jake Johnson, Common Dreams June 10, 2019

President Donald Trump holds up a chart of military hardware sales as he meets with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the Oval Office on March 20, 2018, in Washington, D.C. (Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)

This post first appeared at Com­mon Dreams.

The provision, according to the Times, immediately "raised concerns that the Saudis could gain access to technology that would let them produce their own versions of American precision-guided bombs—weapons they have used in strikes on civilians since they began fighting a war in Yemen four years ago."

In a move crit­ics warned could empow­er the Saud­is to man­u­fac­ture their own high-tech weapon­ry for use in their assault on Yemen, the Trump admin­is­tra­tion report­ed­ly wants to allow the Amer­i­can arms giant Raytheon to work with the king­dom to con­struct bomb and mis­sile parts inside Sau­di Arabia.

As The New York Times report­ed Fri­day, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s emer­gency dec­la­ra­tion last month green­light­ing bil­lions of dol­lars in U.S. weapons sales to Sau­di Ara­bia with­out con­gres­sion­al approval con­tained a pro­vi­sion that per­mits Raytheon to team up with the Saud­is to build high-tech bomb parts in Sau­di Arabia.”

The pro­vi­sion, accord­ing to the Times, imme­di­ate­ly raised con­cerns that the Saud­is could gain access to tech­nol­o­gy that would let them pro­duce their own ver­sions of Amer­i­can pre­ci­sion-guid­ed bombs — weapons they have used in strikes on civil­ians since they began fight­ing a war in Yemen four years ago.”

The move grants Raytheon and the Saud­is sweep­ing per­mis­sion to begin assem­bling the con­trol sys­tems, guid­ance elec­tron­ics and cir­cuit cards that are essen­tial to the com­pa­ny’s Pave­way smart bombs,” the Times report­ed. The Unit­ed States has close­ly guard­ed such tech­nol­o­gy for nation­al secu­ri­ty reasons.”

In a detailed inves­ti­ga­tion pub­lished last month, In These Times found that the Sau­di king­dom has ordered more than 27,000 mis­siles worth at least $1.8 bil­lion from Raytheon alone” since 2009.

About $650 mil­lion of those Raytheon orders,” In These Times report­ed, came after the Sau­di war in Yemen began.”

William D. Har­tung, direc­tor of the Arms and Secu­ri­ty Project at the Cen­ter for Inter­na­tion­al Pol­i­cy, warned that hand­ing the Saud­is the capac­i­ty to devel­op high-tech bombs on the lev­el of U.S. weapon­ry could have dis­as­trous con­se­quences for the peo­ple of Yemen, who are already suf­fer­ing from the world’s worst human­i­tar­i­an crisis.

If Sau­di Ara­bia is able to devel­op an indige­nous bomb-mak­ing capa­bil­i­ty as a result of this deal,” Har­tung said, it will under­mine U.S. lever­age to pre­vent them from engag­ing in indis­crim­i­nate strikes of the kind it has car­ried out in Yemen.”

Accord­ing to the Times, the Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s agree­ment with Raytheon is part of a larg­er arms pack­age, pre­vi­ous­ly blocked by Con­gress, that includes 120,000 pre­ci­sion-guid­ed bombs that Raytheon is pre­pared to ship to the coalition.”

These will add to the tens of thou­sands of bombs that Sau­di Ara­bia and the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates have already stock­piled,” the Times report­ed, and some in Con­gress fear the sur­plus would let the coun­tries con­tin­ue fight­ing in Yemen long into the future.”

As Com­mon Dreams report­ed in April, Trump vetoed a con­gres­sion­al effort — led by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I‑Vt.) and Rep. Ro Khan­na (D‑Calif.) — to end U.S. com­plic­i­ty in the Sau­di assault on Yemen by halt­ing mil­i­tary assis­tance to the kingdom.

A bipar­ti­san group of law­mak­ers is now plan­ning a series of votes in an attempt to block Trump’s emer­gency dec­la­ra­tion on Sau­di arms sales.

We will not stand idly by and allow the pres­i­dent or the sec­re­tary of state to fur­ther erode con­gres­sion­al review and over­sight of arm sales,” said Sen. Robert Menen­dez (D‑N.J.), the top Demo­c­rat on the Sen­ate For­eign Rela­tions Committee.

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