U.S. Arms Plan for Mideast Aims to Counter Iranian Power

[New York Times] Mark Mazzetti and Helene Cooper - The Bush administration said Monday that its plan to provide billions of dollars in advanced weapons to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel over the next 10 years was intended in part to serve as a bulwark against Iran's growing influence in the Middle East. The White House plan must overcome opposition from lawmakers who are skeptical that the weapons will have any effect in blunting Iran's nuclear ambitions. The final package will be formally presented for Congressional approval in September. Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Monday that lawmakers wanted assurances that the weapons package "include only defensive systems," not weaponry that could be used by Arab states to attack Israel. In the past, Israel has successfully lobbied the U.S. against selling AIM-9X missiles, used on jet fighters for aerial combat, to countries like Egypt out of fear that they could shift the military balance. A Congressional aide familiar with details of the Bush administration plans said AIM-9X missiles were part of the package planned for Egypt.

2007-07-31 01:00:00

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