A group of US lawmakers introduced a congressional resolution on Tuesday to block President George W Bush's proposed sale of high-tech, precision guided bombs to Saudi Arabia.
The Bush administration notified Congress of intent to sell 123 million dollars worth of the JDAM bombs to Saudi Arabia on Monday, timed to coincide with the president's visit to the close US ally in the region. Congress has 30 days to pass the resolution.
The JDAMs are part of a 20-billion-dollar arms package to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries aimed partly at countering Iran's growing strength in the Middle East and to bolster security in the Gulf.
Representatives Anthony Weiner and Robert Wexler, both Democrats, introduced the resolution with 51 co-sponsors, arguing that Saudi Arabia should not receive such sophisticated weaponry because it backs terrorism and has not played a productive role in the Middle East peace process.
"If it is somehow to create a more stable environment in the Middle East, we have seen that there could not be a more volatile time to be introducing high technology weapons into that part of the world," Weiner said.
Wexler acknowledged their resolution faces an "uphill battle" because it has not won the support of the Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, Tom Lantos.
Members of Congress have also raised concerns the deal could pose a threat to Israel, a country unrecognized by the Saudi Kingdom.
US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the United States has worked closely with the Israelis and Saudis to ensure the weapons package does not pose a threat to the Jewish state, and remains committed to Israel's defence.
"We are committed to maintaining that qualitative military edge for Israel," McCormack said.
The United States has already agreed to sell Saudi Arabia and other Arab states early warning radar aircraft as part of the Gulf Security Dialogue arms package announced last year. The sale of the JDAMs is the latest installment of the deal. ( Dpa )