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United Arab Emirates Threatens To Cancel $23 Billion Drone Deal Right Before Meeting At Pentagon

(Photo by John Thys - Pool/Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Healthcare Reporter
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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is threatening to back out of a weapons deal with the United States worth billions of dollars, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

The multibillion-dollar deal is for F-35 jets, reaper drones and other advanced weaponry, according to the WSJ. The reported source of the tension threatening the agreement is China’s role in the Persian Gulf.

Officials in the Emirati government reportedly told the U.S. that security requirements imposed by Washington in order to keep the weaponry safe from Chinese espionage were too cumbersome, according to the WSJ.

“The U.A.E. has informed the U.S. that it will suspend discussions to acquire the F-35,” an Emirati official said. “Technical requirements, sovereign operational restrictions, and the cost/benefit analysis led to the reassessment.”

The $23 billion deal was signed near the end of the Trump administration. It could potentially be renegotiated when a delegation of Emirati officials visit the Pentagon for two days of talks beginning Wednesday.

American officials are reportedly concerned about growing ties between Gulf allies and China not only in the realm of business, but also national security. Those officials believe China poses a national security threat to the U.S. due to its activities in the region, according to the WSJ. (RELATED: ‘Generation-Defining Mistake’: How China Fooled American Elites To Join The WTO)

Two weeks ago, the Emiratis signed a $20 billion deal with France to purchase 80 Rafale fighter jets and a number of military helicopters. Earlier this year, U.S. intelligence agencies discovered that China was building a suspected military facility at a port near Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE.

The Biden administration promised a review of the UAE weapons deal upon taking office, before ultimately deciding to proceed with the sale. Opponents of the deal have criticized the UAE for using American weapons to conduct offensive strikes in Libya and Yemen, which have resulted in civilian casualties.