With No Challenge from Congress, Saudi Arms Sale Goes into Effect

Saudi Arabia will receive $825 million in arms as requested by the Reagan administration, since Congress did not vote to block it by Thursday’s deadline.

Rep. Larry Smith (D-Fla.), who had drafted a resolution to block the sale, decided against introducing it after not finding enough support in the Senate, his press secretary, Karen Donovan, said Friday.

Another Capitol Hill aide said that many members of Congress supported the sale to help bolster the armed forces of a friendly ally in the Persian Gulf.

The sale includes support equipment for AWACS surveillance planes already possessed by the Saudis, as well as 200 Bradley Fighting Vehicles and TOW-II anti-tank missiles.

Members of Congress had written Secretary of State George Shultz urging him to reconsider the sale. The House letter was signed by 187 members, while the Senate version had 58 signatures.

But Capitol Hill sources said the motive of many lawmakers in opposing the sale was to bring attention to Saudi Arabia’s initial attempt to conceal its purchase of medium-range missiles from China.

Those missiles, which have a range of 1,600 miles, have the capability to reach Israel. Saudi Arabia has assured the Reagan administration that the missiles will not be fitted with nuclear warheads.

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