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U.S. Signs $15 Billion Saudi Arms Deal, Despite Human Rights Concerns

Saudi Arabia will buy $15 billion worth of American missiles and arms, the U.S. Department of State said Wednesday. The two countries signed letters of offer and acceptance documents on Monday, MSNBC reports.

The deal covers 44 Lockheed Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) ground launchers, missiles and related equipment and dates to 2016. The missiles could help shield Saudi Arabia from Iranian ballistic missiles.

The U.S. Congress approved the purchase in 2017 before Saudi agents murdered journalist Jamal Kashoggi. Since then Germany and other American allies have suspended arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which is also prosecuting a war in Yemen that has bombed, starved, and killed by disease enough people to stall global progress on eliminating poverty.

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham said Monday that the U.S. should punish Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman if the intelligence community concludes that he’s responsible for the murder. Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported that the Central Intelligence Agency had indeed concluded that bin Salman was responsible.

Last year Saudi Arabia bought $3.4 billion worth of arms from the U.S. In the five years leading up to and including 2017, Saudi Arabia bought about 18% of U.S. arms exports.