us-arms1On July 29, 2015, Reuters is reporting that “The U.S. State Department has approved the possible sale to Saudi Arabia of $5.4 billion in additional PAC-3 missiles built by Lockheed Martin Corp, the Pentagon said”. The same open source is also stating that “the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said the sale would benefit a key U.S. partner in the Middle East”, that the “notification to Congress was sent on Tuesday [July 28, 2015] and follows a major nuclear deal with Iran”, and that “the missile sale approval could help reassure Saudi Arabia about the U.S. commitment to its security”[1].

            In such a context, we are to strongly take into account a significant basic fact: in the Greater Middle East, only one political actor has military capabilities strong enough in order to simply push Saudi Arabia to actively search for buying massive amounts of modern military hardware. That country is Iran, and the U.S. decision to made possible new massive arms sales to Saudi Arabia is a strong proof that the recent nuclear deal did not make Iran peaceful, or at least strategically acceptable. Tehran, to put it bluntly, still is the largest, strongest and most dangerous political actor in the Gulf, with notorious and perennial imperial ambitions.

            According to Lockheed Martin, PAC-3, the Patriot Advanced Capability interceptor, is now “the world’s most effective air and missile defense” system, one of the “the most advanced, capable and powerful terminal air defense missiles in the world” and also the “best defense against TBM [Tactical Ballistic Missile] threats”. More than 2,000 “have been manufactured to date”[2].

            We have strong doubts that the broadly obsolete Iranian Air Force[3] is generating too large worries in Saudi Arabia, but the increasingly potent missile arsenal belonging to Tehran is a totally different issue: armed with either conventional (HE) or WMD warheads, the Iranian missiles can significantly alter the entire balance of power at least in the Persian Gulf area. That is why Saudi Arabia obviously needs many modern U.S.-built missile defense systems.

[1] “U.S. approves possible sale of $5.4 billion in missiles to Saudi Arabia”, Reuters, July 29, 2015, text available at the Internet address http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/07/29/us-usa-saudi-missiles-idUSKCN0Q320720150729

[2] “Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3)”, on the official webpage of Lockheed Martin, at the Internet address http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/products/PAC-3.html

[3] “Iran - Air Force”, at the Internet address http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/iran/airforce.htm

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