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Statement of Administration Policy: Multiple Senate Joint Resolutions Disapproving Proposed Exports of Certain Defense Articles and Services to Multiple Countries

June 20, 2019


(Sen. Menendez, D-NJ, and seven cosponsors)

The Administration strongly opposes passage of Senate Joint Resolutions (S.J. Res.) 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 37, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, disapproving the issuance of an export license or foreign military sales cases for the proposed transfer of defense articles, defense services, and technical data associated with the sales of aircraft support, munitions, logistical services, unmanned Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) platforms, training, and advisory services in regards to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Israel, the Republic of Korea, Australia, India, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The transfer of these capabilities and services to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan directly supports the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of friendly countries that continue to be important forces for political and economic stability in the Middle East. Apart from negatively affecting our bilateral relationships with these countries, the joint resolutions would hamper our ability to sustain and shape critical security cooperation activities and would significantly hinder the interoperability between our nations. Additionally, the joint resolutions would affect the ability of our partners to deter and defend against Iran's hostile acts. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia serves as a bulwark against the malign activities of Iran and its proxies in the region. Its civilians and the thousands of United States citizens residing in Saudi Arabia continue to be threatened by attacks from the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen, and suffered an attack earlier this month that injured 26 civilians. These joint resolutions would send a message that the United States is abandoning its partners and allies at the very moment when threats to them are increasing.

The United States has taken a number of actions to help the Saudi military mitigate the risk of civilian casualties in Yemen, including training and advising the Saudi military to help them improve their targeting processes to minimize civilian casualties. Combined with this assistance, the provision of precision guided munitions would further help the Saudis mitigate the risk of civilian casualties.

In addition to the joint resolution's adverse effects on our Middle East partners, they would also negatively affect our NATO Allies and global partners. Jordan, for example, is a NATO enhanced Opportunities Partner (eOP) and Defense Capacity Partner, and benefits from security assistance and capacity building through a Defense Capacity Building Project. As a result, Jordan is able to participate in NATO exercises and ensure interoperability with NATO standards, and is in the process of joining NATO's Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan.

The defense relationship between the United States and Israel supports our strategic objectives in the region and ensures Israel's ability to defend itself against all threats. The Administration rejects any restrictions on the ability of the United States to support security cooperation with Israel, particularly any limitations that would reduce Israel's Qualitative Military Edge (QME) over potential regional threats.

The Republic of Korea (ROK) is a key ally for the United States in Asia, and the United States-ROK alliance continues to be the linchpin of peace and security—not only on the Korean Peninsula, but across the region. Several of the joint resolutions would prevent the sale of critical weapons systems that would ensure the ROK is able to defend against the grave threat that the activities of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) pose to the region and the world.

Australia has been a steadfast defense ally of the United States for more than a century, and mutual cooperation is essential for countering 21st century threats. The United States-Australia alliance remains essential for peace and stability throughout the Indo-Pacific region and beyond, as demonstrated by close cooperation on issues ranging from counterterrorism to cyber security to supply chain resilience. Several of the joint resolutions would undermine the Administration's pledge of close cooperation on shared priorities with Australia.

The strategic partnership between the United States and India is critical to the success of the President's Indo-Pacific Strategy and our ability to realize the shared vision for a stable and prosperous region. The joint resolutions affecting India would undermine our efforts to reinforce and expand our security partnership and to substantiate India's status as a Major Defense Partner, and would undermine the credibility of the United States as a reliable partner.

Actions caused by the enactment of these resolutions could have unintended consequences for defense procurement and impair achieving interoperability with our partners, and could create an opportunity for exploitation by competitors and adversaries. Russia and China are aggressively seeking to broaden their defense export markets, especially to reach countries with lower budgets or those that remain reliant on Soviet legacy equipment. Even some of our Allies are vying for greater market share for their defense industries and do not always prioritize interoperability and complementarity with NATO.

Furthermore, much of the transatlantic defense industry is highly integrated and reliant on United States components and intellectual property—cooperation that ensures interoperability, which in turn makes NATO stronger. The proposed joint resolutions would threaten the reliability of the United States as a partner in defense R&D, as a supplier of defense equipment, and as a stalwart for ensuring NATO interoperability.

If the President were presented with any of these joint resolutions, his advisors would recommend he veto them.

Donald J. Trump, Statement of Administration Policy: Multiple Senate Joint Resolutions Disapproving Proposed Exports of Certain Defense Articles and Services to Multiple Countries Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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