Three Lawmakers Tell Bush They’ll Oppose Arms to Saudis

Three Democratic lawmakers warned President-elect George Bush this week that they would lead a congressional effort to block a multibillion dollar arms sale to Saudi Arabia expected to be proposed next spring.

Sen. Alan Cranston and Rep. Mel Levine, both of California, and Rep. Lawrence Smith of Florida told Bush in a letter, delivered Dec. 10, that they “would take the lead in Congress to oppose actively an administration request to license export of such a major new Saudi arms package.”

The three cited “persistent reports” about a possible new arms sale in the “early months of your administration.”

The Washington Times first reported in late October that the Saudis were considering asking the United States by April for F/A-18 fighter planes, M-1 battle tanks, M-2 and M-3 Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Patriot tactical air defense missiles.

For Israel, the most objectionable component of the package are the fighter planes, which were first sold to the Arab world in August, when Kuwait received 40 of them.

“We view with alarm,” the lawmakers said, “the prospect of a new divisive proposal to add our most advanced offensive weapons systems to the already teeming Saudi arsenal.”

“We don’t believe that such arms sales are justified, especially so soon after enormous Saudi arms purchases from both us and our allies.”

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