US embassy cable - 87STATE154739

U.S. PLANS ARMS SALE TO SAUDIS

Identifier: 87STATE154739
Wikileaks: View 87STATE154739 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Secretary of State
Created: 1987-05-21 05:12:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Tags: MASS SA US
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
P 210512Z MAY 87
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY
INFO AMCONSUL DHAHRAN PRIORITY
AMCONSUL JEDDAH PRIORITY
UNCLAS STATE 154739 
 
FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY 
 
E.O. 12356:    N/A 
TAGS:          MASS, SA, US 
SUBJECT:       U.S. PLANS ARMS SALE TO SAUDIS 
 
1.  TEXT OF MAY 16 WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE "U.S. PLANS 
ARMS SALE TO SAUDIS, WHITE HOUSE TO NOTIFY CONGRESS OF 
$500 MILLION DEAL" BY BARRY SCHWEID OF THE ASSOCIATED 
PRESS FOLLOWS. 
 
2.  BEGIN TEXT: 
 
3.  IN A MOVE CERTAIN TO TOUCH OFF HEATED DEBATE, THE 
WHITE HOUSE WILL NOTIFY CONGRESS NEXT WEEK THAT IT 
INTENDS TO SELL $500 MILLION WORTH OF F15 FIGHTER PLANES 
TO SAUDI ARABIA, REAGAN ADMINISTRATION AND CONGRESSIONAL 
SOURCES SAID YESTERDAY. 
 
CONGRESS, WHICH HAS THE AUTHORITY TO VETO THE PURCHASE, 
IS LKELY TO TAKE A CLOSE LOOK AT THE PLAN IN LIGHT OF 
REPORTS THAT THE SAUDIS SECRETLY PROVIDED FINANCIAL HELP 
TO THE NICARAGUAN CONTRAS. 
 
THE WASHINGTON POST REPORTED THIS WEEK THAT SOURCES CLOSE 
TO THE SAUDIS ESTIMATE THEIR CONTRIBUTION TO THE CONTRAS 
AT $23 MILLION IN 1984-85.  SOME MEMBERS OF THE 
 
CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEES INVESTIGATING THE IRAN-CONTRA 
AFFAIR HAVE ESTIMATED SAUDI CONTRIBUTIONS TO HAVE BEEN AS 
HIGH AS $32.5 MILLION. 
 
ISRAEL'S SUPPORTERS, MEANWHILE, ARE BOUND TO CHALLENGE 
THE DEAL AS POSING A POTENTIAL MILITARY DANGER. 
 
THE SOURCES, WHO DEMANDED ANONYMITY, SAID THE PLANES--12 
TO 15, DEPENDING ON ULTIMATE PRODUCTION COSTS--WOULD BE 
KEPT IN THE UNITED STATES AND PROVIDED TO THE ARAB 
KINGDOM ONLY TO REPLACE JETS LOST IN ACCIDENTS. 
 
"IT IS UNDER ACTIVE CONSIDERATION AS ATTRITION 
REPLACEMENTS," ONE OFFICIAL SAID. 
 
AFTER BITTER DEBATE IN CONGRESS, THE CARTER 
ADMINISTRATION IN 1978 WON APPROVAL FOR THE SALE OF 62 
JETS TO THE SAUDIS. 
 
FOUR OR FIVE PLANES HAVE SINCE BEEN LOST IN ACCIDENTS, 
AND THE UNITED STATES WANTS TO KEEP THE LEVEL UP TO 60, 
AN OFFICIA1 SAID. 
 
CONGRESS WAS TO HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED THIS WEEK.  BUT THE 
PLAN WAS "SHORT-CIRCUITED" BY THE CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS 
ON THE IRAN-CONTRA AFFAIR, THE SOURCES SAID. 
 
SAUDI AID TO THE CONTRAS CAME AT A CRITICAL PERIOD WHEN 
CONGRESS HAD PROHIBITED U.S. MILITARY ASISTANCE TO THE 
REBELS. 
 
IN THE PERIOD, THE ADMINITRATION SHIPPED 400 STINGER 
ANTIAIRCRAFT MISSILES TO SAUDI ARABIA AND ALSO SAID IT 
WAS CONSIDERING A PROPOSAL TO SELL $12 BILLION IN 
ADDITIONAL ARMS TO THE OIL-RICH KINGDOM. 
 
WHILE CONGRESS WAS UNAWARE OF THE SECRET CONTRA AID, 
OPPONENTS THREATENED TO REJECT THE PURCHASES--AND WITH 
ENOUGH VOTES TO OVERRIDE A VETO BY PRESIDENT REAGAN. 
 
HE SCALED DOWN THE DEAL, BUT THE SAUDIS WITHDREW THE 
ENTIRE PACKAGE. 
 
THEIR NEW REQUEST INCLUDES BOTH F15C AND F15D JETS, WHICH 
ARE PRODUCED BY MCDONNELL DOUGLAS CORP.  THE SAUDIS 
INITIALLY BOUGHT 47 F15CS AND 15 F15DS. 
 
MCDONNELL DOUGLAS IS DUE TO END PRODUCTION OF BOTH TYPES 
OF AIRPLANES IN MAY 1988.  IT WILL TURN OUT THE MORE 
 
POTENT F15E, WHICH AN OFFICAL DESCIBED AS A "STRIKE 
AIRCRAFT" THAT THE ADMINISTRAT1ON WOULD NOT SELL TO THE 
SAUDIS AND CONGRESS WOULD NOT APPROVE. 
 
THE OFFICIAL, WHO DECLINED TO BE IDENTIFIED, ESTIMATED 
THAT IT WOULD TAKE THREE YEARS TO MANUFACTURE THE FIRST 
OF THE REPLACEMENT JETS. 
 
THE FIRST GROUP OF FOUR OR FIVE-,OR MORE IF OTHER 
EXISTING PLANES ARE LOST--WOULD BE SENT TO SAUDI ARABIA 
THEN, WHILE THE OTHERS WOULD BE KEPT IN THE UNITED STATES 
TO BE SUPPLIED AS NEEDED. 
 
4.  END TEXT. 
 
 
SHULTZ 

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