UNITED STATES: Richard Blumenthal, a Democratic lawmaker, has expressed his concern that Saudi Arabia could share sensitive US defence technology with Russia because, recently, Saudi Arabia chose to support Russia over the US.
Following Opec+’s decision to cut oil production, Blumenthal, a senator from the Senate Armed Services Committee, urged a one-year ban on arms transfers to Saudi Arabia. He said he would “dig deeper into the risk” while talking with the Pentagon.
In an interview, Blumenthal stated, “I want some reassurance that they are on top of it, and if there are concerns, I want to establish what can be done to mitigate those risks immediately.”
His worry demonstrates how much the Saudi monarchy and the Democrats in Washington have drifted apart. Democrats are incensed by Opec’s recent plan to begin reducing oil production by 2 million barrels per day starting in the next month.
Previously, the US believed that the agreement was a means for Riyadh to support Russia during its conflict with Ukraine. Additionally, by boosting the cost of gas, it was regarded as a simple way to harm Joe Biden and the Democratic Party before next month’s crucial midterm elections.
The move has angered Biden and his Democratic congressional supporters, who have also called for a realignment in the Saudi-US alliance. President Biden has warned that Saudi Arabia will suffer “consequences” for the action.
President Biden would reexamine the partnership in a “methodical” manner, says Jake Sullivan, the White House’s national security adviser, who stated this on Sunday. One alternative, according to him, is to alter the security assistance provided to the main oil producer.
Republicans on Capitol Hill have been far more silent about the Opec+ decision, but Blumenthal said that his conversations with colleagues revealed that all parties would support measures to restrict the sale of weapons, which is likely to be a formal issue of discussion next month.
In addition, Blumenthal stated that one of his main concerns is ensuring that Russia does not gain access to the sensitive technology that has been shared with US allies in Riyadh. The senator also stated that he supported the idea of supplying weapons to allies in Ukraine that are currently in Saudi Arabia or are en route there.
According to some analysts, it would be difficult to deploy weapons to Ukraine since they would require US personnel to manage them. They claim that it would be an unmanageable escalation. Blumenthal added that while it was conceivable to train Ukrainian soldiers outside of Ukraine, he was not suggesting that US troops would do it there.
Prince Khalid bin Salman, the safety minister for Saudi Arabia, tweeted on Sunday that OPEC+’s decision to reduce oil output was decided unanimously for “purely” “bread-and-butter” considerations.
Although the Pentagon was contacted for comment, no response was received.