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US senator: Trump will exploit Iran threat to sell bombs to Saudi Arabia

May 25, 2019 at 12:42 pm

US President Donald Trump at the White House, in Washington, US on 13 April 2018 [Mike Theiler/Pool/Getty Images]

US Senator Chris Murphy said yesterday that President Donald Trump’s administration will use a legal loophole as well as escalating tensions with Iran to sell bombs to Saudi Arabia, although the Congress has halted arms sales for months over fears of civilian deaths in the war in Yemen.

“I am hearing that Trump may use an obscure loophole in the Arms Control Act and notice a major new sale of bombs to Saudi Arabia (the ones they drop in Yemen) in a way that will prevent Congress from objecting,” Murphy said on his Twitter account.

He added that this “could happen this week.”

Congressional aides said that items in the Arms Export Control Act, which sets the rules for international arms transactions, allow the president to approve a sale without returning to Congress in a state of national emergency.

They added that in this case, the Republican president will talk about growing tensions with Iran as a reason to provide more military equipment to Saudi Arabia, which he considers an important partner in the region, according to Reuters.

READ: US officials seek to tamp down Trump rhetoric on Iran

Trump described the arms sales to Saudis as a way to create job opportunities for Americans.

No clear information is yet available about the type of equipment to be sold to Saudi Arabia, or when they would be provided.

However, any plan is expected to face resistance in the Congress, from Republicans and Democrats, such as Murphy, and even in the Senate, where Republicans have a slim majority.

Senator Lindsey Graham, one of Trump’s closest allies, told CNN that he would oppose the administration if it decides to circumvent Congress.

READ: EU calls on US, Iran to ‘avoid provocations’

“We are not going to have business as usual until that issue is dealt with,” Graham said, referring to the murder in the Saudi consulate in Turkey if Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The US Congress expressed concerns over the “politicisation of intelligence information on Iran,” through parties within the US administration, who are pushing towards a military confrontation between Washington and Tehran. This came in a letter addressed by the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US House of Representatives, Eliot Engel, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Adam Smith, and the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee,Adam Bennett Schiff, to State Secretary Mike Pompeo, last Thursday.