US President Joe Biden has told Congress it is proceeding with more than $23 billion weapons sales to the United Arab Emirates, including advanced F-35 aircraft, armed drones and other equipment, congressional aides said on Tuesday.
State Department spokesperson said the administration would move forward with the proposed sales to the UAE, “even as we continue reviewing details and consulting with Emirati officials” related to the use of the weapons
The Democratic president’s administration had paused the deals agreed to by former Republican President Donald Trump in order to review them. The sales to the Gulf nation were finalised right before Trump left office.
The Trump administration told Congress in November it had approved the sale to the UAE as a side deal to the Abraham Accords, an agreement brokered by the United States in September in which the UAE agreed to normalise relations with Israel.
In the last months of the Trump administration, Israel reached deals with the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco as part of the accord.
The $23.37 billion deal contained products from General Atomics, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Technologies, including 50 F-35 Lighting II aircraft, up to 18 MQ-9B Unmanned Aerial Systems and a package of air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions.
A legislative effort to stop the deal failed in December last year, when Mr Trump was in office. The deal received criticism citing UAE’s involvement in the Yemen war that has fuelled one of the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.
Trump administration then finalised the enormous sale to the UAE on January 20, about an hour before Biden was sworn in as president.
The Biden administration announced the review in late January and the UAE said then it had anticipated the review and welcomed joint efforts to de-escalate tensions and for renewed regional dialogue.
The State Department spokesperson said on Tuesday the estimated delivery dates on the UAE sales, if implemented, were for after 2025 or later.
The government anticipated “a robust and sustained dialogue with the UAE” to ensure a stronger security partnership.
The Biden administration is also reviewing its policy for military sales to Saudi Arabia, including some Trump-era weapons deals, in light of the Saudi involvement in Yemen and other human rights concerns.