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Friday, October 22, 2010     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Centcom report on enhanced U.S.-Saudi relations cites threat of a nuclear-armed Iran

WASHINGTON — The U.S. military's Central Command has reported an expansion of cooperation with Saudi Arabia since 2008.


  • Related Story: Obama OKs massive weapons deal with Saudis for F-15s and Apache, Black Hawk helicopters October 21

  • Centcom has been training, equipping and advising Saudi security forces to protect the kingdom's energy infrastructure. Saudi Arabia has also been working with Washington regarding the threat from neighboring Iran. Centcom said Riyad was worried over the prospect that Iran would acquire nuclear weapons.

    "Saudi leadership has made it clear that a nuclear-armed Iran is incompatible with regional stability and a grave threat to Saudi strategic interests," the report said. "Saudi Arabia is committed to open and transparent use of civilian nuclear technology. However a nuclear-armed Iran will cause a Saudi reassessment of this policy."

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    "It is important to our national interests that we continue to engage broadly with the Saudi military and to strengthen our cooperation in such vital areas as air and missile defense, ballistic missile early warning, critical infrastructure protection, and our efforts to degrade and disrupt extremist elements in the region," Centcom said in a report.

    On Oct. 20, President Barack Obama formally approved a $60 billion military deal with Saudi Arabia. Officials said the aircraft project contains numerous options for training and would significantly expand the U.S. military presence in the GCC state.

    The report, submitted to the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Centcom has established a program management office to develop Saudi security forces. Centcom said the two countries have also been engaged in major exercises.

    "The scale of Saudi Arabian capacity provides significant opportunity for large-scale combined exercises like Red Flag and the Friendship series as well as large numbers of other bilateral engagements," the report said. "The Saudis have expended great effort in expanding participation in regional military exercises and programs such as the annual Eagle Resolve and Bright Star exercises."

    Riyad and Washington were said to have been cooperating against the Al Qaida threat. Centcom also cited U.S. military cooperation with other Gulf Cooperation Council states.

    "We also have a strong security relationship with the United Arab Emirates, and we have expanded our partnerships with Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman," the report said. "Kuwait is a pivotal partner that has been instrumental in supporting our efforts in Iraq. Bahrain, as well, has been a gracious host of the U.S. fleet for decades, while at the same time Qatar has been host to one of our largest bases in the region and our forward headquarters. Oman has continued to be a valuable partner in preserving stability in the region."

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