Arab states arming themselves with $123 billion in US weapons; deal with Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and UAE major boost to US defense industry; North Korean convention next week linked to Kim Jong-Il's succession plan; US concerned at estrangement between China and Japan; Turkey questions Iran sanctions; US recession longest since Great Depression; and more
Top of the Agenda: Arab States to Buy Weapons to Counter Iran
Arab states in the Gulf are ordering U.S. weapons worth some $123 billion in an effort to counter Iran's military power, one of the largest re-armament exercises in peacetime history (FT). The $67 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia is the largest deal in the military build-up and a major boost to the U.S. defense industry. The United Arab Emirates has also signed contracts to buy $35 to $40 billion in military equipment, and Kuwait and Oman have signed contracts to upgrade their military capabilities. The arms sales help "reinforce the level of regional deterrence and help reduce the size of forces the U.S. must deploy in the region," said the Center for Strategic and International Studies' Anthony Cordesman. Many Middle Eastern countries, which house two-thirds of the world's proven oil reserves, are worried about Iran's nuclear ambitions and the repercussions if Israeli or U.S. military strike Iranian nuclear facilities. Several members of Congress have opposed the deal (JPost) with Saudi Arabia in a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama, who plans to officially inform Congress of the details in the next few weeks.
The National says suggestions that the deal with Saudi Arabia is based on a much-needed cash injection to the U.S. Treasury is a "myopic reading [that] ignores the security and political implications of the deal in the Middle East."
A Boston Globe editorial says an attempt by the United States, Israel, or the two combined to bomb the known nuclear sites in Iran would be riskier than the Saudi arms sale. That strategy would at best "delay by a few years Iran's attainment of a nuclear weapons capability. At worst, it could set off an unpredictable cycle of war and terrorism in several countries."
PACIFIC RIM: N. Korea to Hold Party Convention
North Korea said it will hold a postponed but heavily anticipated convention of the ruling Workers' Party (Yonhap) next week, linked to leader Kim Jong-Il's plan to hand power over to one of his sons.
Japan: The United States voiced concern at the prospect of a prolonged estrangement between China and Japan (Guardian), after a Chinese fishing boat collision aroused long-standing disputes over the islands as well as over drilling rights in oil and gas fields in the East China Sea.
This is an excerpt of the CFR.org Daily News Brief. The full version is available on CFR.org