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America`s uneasy Gulf allies adding to arsenals

In the past two months, the Defense Department has notified Congress of possible deals totaling more than USD 11.3 billion to Gulf states.



Dubai: While Iran`s military loudly trumpets every new project or purported advance in hopes of rattling the US and its Gulf Arab allies, the Pentagon is quietly answering with an array of proposed arms sales across the region as part of a wider effort to counter Tehran.

In the past two months, the Defense Department has notified Congress of possible deals totaling more than USD 11.3 billion to Gulf states such as Qatar and Kuwait, which are seen as some of America`s critical front-line partners in containing Iran and protecting oil shipping lanes.

The proposed sales, including Patriot missile batteries and Apache attack helicopters, are still modest compared with massive Gulf purchases such as Saudi Arabia`s USD 60 billion package last year. That deal included more than 80 new F-15SA fighter jets, missiles, radar warning systems and other equipment.

But the recent flurry of expected deals, outlined in notifications to Congress, underscores the growing emphasis among nervous Gulf states on seeking quick upgrades to existing firepower and defensive networks.

Gulf worries about possible military action against Iran have increased with diplomatic efforts making little headway in easing the showdown over Tehran`s nuclear program, which the West and others fear could eventually develop atomic weapons. Iran says it only seeks reactors for energy and medical uses.

An Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, reported yesterday that National Security Adviser Tom Donilon briefed Israeli officials on possible US attack plans if diplomacy and sanctions fail to pressure Tehran to scale back its nuclear enrichment program. A senior Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss confidential talks, denied the Haaretz report.

PTI

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