Saturday, December 20, 2008

More to Middle East Arms Race

That Iran looms large in current Gulf thinking was further highlighted with this week's announcement that the UAE has signed a $3.3 billion agreement to purchase US patriot missiles. The deal also involves medium-range Patriot manufacturer Raytheon transferring technology and training. It follows Iranian advances in missile technology with the introduction of its Shahab-3 medium range weapon. For the UAE, the purchase is a balancing act. A key conduit for supply to Iran of goods that fall under US sanctions, some US legislators fear that sensitive technology involved in the Patriot deal as well as US willingness to help the UAE develop a civilian nuclear energy program could end up in Iran. The recent announcements fits a pattern and is part of an extensive military upgrade program. Earlier this year, privately-owned Emirates Advanced Investments joined forces with Raytheon to develop laser-guided missile technology in the UAE. Also, earlier this year, France and the UAE said France would be establishing a military presence in the Emirates by spring of 2009.

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