Proposed Saudi Arms Sale Faces Little Opposition

Congress is not expected to oppose a proposed $365 million arms sale to Saudi Arabia.

President Bush formally notified Congress on Monday that the package includes 2,000 MK-84 bombs, 2,100 cluster bombs, 770 Sparrow air-to-air missiles and laser-guided bomb components.

A pro-Israel lobbyist said the package consists of “small dollar” items — “most of it not very threatening or new or different than what’s been put in the region before.”

Sparrow technology is “not special” while MK-84s are “old iron bombs,” the lobbyist added.

But the cluster bombs are considered more powerful than the others. They contain a number of smaller bombs that are scattered over a wide area, resulting in a dramatically expanded range.

Another feature of the cluster bomb is that when deployed, some of its smaller bombs don’t necessarily explode. As a result, “little kids pick them up and blow their arms off,” the lobbyist explained. “It’s kind of an unpleasant reaction.”

Of greater concern to pro-Israel activists here than the current package is a future proposed sale worth more than $10 billion.

That package was initially expected to be proposed this fall, but pro-Israel lobbyists now expect it to be delayed until early 1992. The delay is due to the fact that the threat to Saudi Arabia from Iraq has declined, said one lobbyist, who added, “The Saudis have real money problems right now. They can’t afford a major sale.”

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