The Gulf states are negotiating to buy the Iron Dome missile interception system from US weapons corporation Raytheon, which developed the system in cooperation with Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., UK television station Sky News reported today. The Gulf states are anxious about Iran, following its nuclear agreement with the US and its involvement in conflicts in the region.
According to the report, the Gulf Cooperation Council, made up of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Oman, wishes to buy Iron Dome for its six members. The cost of the deal is estimated in the tens of millions of dollars, or even in the hundreds of millions.
The system marked for sale to the Gulf states will probably differ from the Iron Dome used by the IDF. Its interception range will be longer, similar to that of David's Sling, also jointly developed by Rafael and Raytheon, which is designed to intercept medium and long-range rockets. Bahrain Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa recently said, "Israel has a small Iron Dome, and we in the Persian Gulf will have a much bigger one."
Up until a few years ago, the possibility of selling a missile interception system to the Arab countries in the Persian Gulf would have aroused opposition in both Israel and the Persian Gulf. Today, however, the common threat to Israel and the countries posed by the Iranian military buildup has changed this situation. A senior government source in one of the Gulf states said, "If Netanyahu were not making less of a mess of things and was more like Anwar Sadat, then we would be happy to buy the missiles straight from Israel."
The US is serving as a mediator in the sale of the system as part of its effort to appease the Gulf States, which are angry about the nuclear agreement signed with Iran. The Sunni monarchies are alarmed about the military buildup in Shi'ite Iran and its efforts to obtain nuclear weapons.
The Gulf states leaders have more than once accused Tehran of providing money and weapons to the Shi'ite population in their countries in order to incite a rebellion against the Sunni regimes. Last year, the Houthi rebels in Yemen, who are supported by Iran, launched rockets and missiles at Saudi Arabia, including Scud ballistic missiles, in response to Saudi Arabian involvement in the war in Yemen.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on October 14, 2015
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