The Biden administration is temporarily halting several arms sales that were moved forward by the Trump administration, including deals involving Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
The pause comes amid widespread calls for President Biden to end support for the Saudis war in Yemen, something he pledged he would do while on the campaign trail. The administration will now review the sales.
The freeze was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, who cited unnamed US officials. A State Department spokesman, and newly confirmed Secretary of State Antony Blinken, confirmed the halt in sales with reporters but framed it as a standard procedure of a new administration.
“When it comes to arms sales, it is typical at the start of an administration to review any pending sales, to make sure that what is being considered is something that advances our strategic objectives and advances our foreign policy,” Blinken said at a press briefing.
In its final days, the Trump administration pushed forward two weapons deals for Saudi Arabia. The deals were for Boeing-made precision-guided bombs worth an estimated $290 million and $750 million in Raytheon-made precision-guided missiles. House Democrats introduced bills opposing the sales, citing the fact that they will likely be used in Yemen, where the Saudis regularly target civilians.
The Biden Administration also temporarily halted a major weapons package for the UAE that includes F-35 fighter jets and was part of Abu Dhabi’s reward for normalizing with Israel. The $23 billion deal also includes reaper drones and munitions. Blinken mentioned the connection between the arms sales and the normalization agreement, known as the Abraham Accords.
“We very much support the Abraham Accords,” he said. “We’re also trying to make sure that we have a full understanding of any commitments that may have been made in securing those agreements, and that’s something we’re looking at right now.”