US Flooding Middle East with Weapons

A05046425.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- The Bush administration is pushing through a broad array of foreign weapons deals as it seeks to rearm Iraq and Afghanistan, contain North Korea and Iran, and solidify ties with onetime Russian allies.

“From tanks, helicopters and fighter jets to missiles, remotely piloted aircraft and even warships, the Department of Defense has agreed so far this fiscal year to sell or transfer more than $32 billion in weapons and other military equipment to foreign governments, compared with $12 billion in 2005.

“The trend, which started in 2006, is most pronounced in the Middle East, but it reaches into northern Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe and even Canada, through dozens of deals that senior Bush administration officials claim they are confident will both tighten military alliances and combat terrorism,” the New York Times reported.

The report said that although the US has long been the leading arms supplier to the world, its share rose from 40 per cent of arms deliveries in 2000 to nearly 52 per cent in 2006. The next-largest seller was Russia, with 21 per cent of global deliveries in 2006.

In recent years a greatly expanding list of nations have relied on the United States as their primary source of major weapons systems. Recent additions include Argentina, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Georgia, India, Iraq, Morocco and Pakistan. “Cumulatively, these countries signed $870 million worth of arms deals with the United States from 2001 to 2004. For the past four fiscal years, that total has been $13.8 billion.”

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported this week that the Bush administration turned down a request from the Israeli government to purchase “a relatively large number” of GBU-28 2.2 ton “bunker buster” bombs.

“The security aid package the United States has refused to give Israel for the past few months out of concern that Israel would use it to attack nuclear facilities in Iran included a large number of ‘bunker-buster’ bombs, permission to use an air corridor to Iran, an advanced technological system and refueling planes.”

The paper later reported that the Pentagon announced on Friday it will provide Israel with 1,000 of the smaller 23-kilogram warhead, GBU-39 smart bombs.

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