Associated Press & Los Angeles Times – 2012-08-01 01:00:12
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (July 30, 2012) — While Iran’s military loudly trumpets every new project or purported advance in hopes of rattling the United States and its Persian Gulf Arab allies, the United States 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 $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 huge gulf purchases such as Saudi Arabia’s $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 sales from U.S. firms, approved by the Pentagon and 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.
Washington plans to keep at least 13,500 troops in Kuwait as a potential rapid-reaction force for the region. The Pentagon also has scores of warplanes and other assets across the gulf, including air bases in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
The United States is also boosting its gulf flotilla, directed by the Navy’s 5th Fleet in Bahrain.
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