The White House has allowed high-tech US bomb parts to be built in Saudi Arabia despite them previously being used to target civilians, it has emerged.
The Trump administration declared an emergency over Iran last month which allowed them to fast track a sale of American arms to Saudi Arabia as part of a weapons deal previously blocked by Congress.
The emergency authorisation allows American defence company Raytheon to collaborate with Saudi Arabia to build 120,000 high-tech bomb parts in the country along with support for the country’s F-15 warplanes, anti-tanks missiles and other equipment.
Details of the arrangement were only released by the administration to Congress this week, infuriating lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
The move raises concerns that Saudi Arabia could gain access to technology that would enable them to recreate their own versions of precision-guided bombs, which human rights organisations say have previously been used in strikes on civilians as part of the war with Yemen.
Mr Trump’s emergency authorisation gave the green light for Raytheon and the Saudis can begin assembling key components of the company’s Paveway smart bombs, such as the control systems. guidance electronics and circuit cards. The time frame for the production is unclear and talks are thought to be ongoing.
The emergency declaration, which cited “the malign influence” of Iran, has prompted criticism from both Republicans and Democrats who believe Mr Trump was overreaching his presidential authority to bypass Congress as well as having concerns about the war in Yemen.
Prominent Republican senators, including Trump ally Lindsey Graham, joined with Democrats to announce that they would introduce 22 measures expressing their disapproval of the arms deals.
“Few nations should be trusted less than Saudi Arabia,” Republican senator Rand Paul said in a statement on Thursday. “In recent years, they have fomented human atrocities, repeatedly lied to the United States and have proved to be a reckless regional pariah. It is concerning and irresponsible for the United States to continue providing them arms.”