The US administration has taken measures to advance the sale of warheads and precision-guided missiles to Saudi Arabia as part of additional military and intelligence assistance to the kingdom’s bloody intervention in Yemen.
On Thursday, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said that the administration of President Donald Trump has taken steps in the congressional notification process for the sale of armor-piercing Penetrator Warheads and precision-guided Paveway missiles to the kingdom.
The controversial sale is expected to include over $1 billion worth of the weapons, informed sources said.
The Trump administration notified Congress last month that it wanted to sell about $390 million worth of weapons guidance systems to Saudi Arabia.
The systems, manufactured by Raytheon Co., are designed to convert “dumb” bombs into precision-guided munitions that are supposed to hit targets more accurately.
An announcement of the new weapons sale had been expected last month, but objections from some members of Congress and human rights groups complicated the matter.
A group of US senators introduced legislation last month to set new conditions for US military assistance to Riyadh.
The US support for the Saudi military campaign in Yemen—which includes arms sales, aerial refueling and providing intelligence—has long been controversial.
Human rights groups have repeatedly accused the Saudis of causing civilian casualties, notably through airstrikes on schools and hospitals. The bombing campaign has claimed the lives of more than 12,000 people, most of them civilians.
Amnesty International’s researchers have already found unexploded US-made bombs among the ruins of residential buildings in Yemen.
Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, put the arms sale on hold in December amid international outrage over the high civilian toll in Yemen. The suspension came after an estimated 140 people were killed the month before when Saudi jets targeted mourners at a funeral in the capital Sana’a.
In a report published on April 20, two child advocacy groups—Save the Children and Watchlist on Children in Armed Conflict— urged the United Nations to put Saudi Arabia on its list of violators of child rights.
The report said the Saudis had blocked aid, creating a situation where the number of severely malnourished children had tripled since the onset of the war.
The kingdom launched the offensive in March 2015 to push back the Houthi Ansarullah movement and reinstate the regime of Yemen’s former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who is a staunch ally of Riyadh.