NEWARK – Senator Bob Menendez, (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement after the Trump administration submitted an informal notification to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for the proposed sale of the F-35 aircraft to the United Arab Emirates:
“As feared, the details of this proposed sale suggest President Trump is seeking to rush through an increase of complex weapons systems into a volatile region seemingly without serious consideration of U.S. interests or the legal parameters of Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge. Claiming Israel will maintain its edge while offering Abu Dhabi the same number of these sophisticated stealth warplanes as Israel simply does not add up. Recklessly accelerating the timeline around a reportedly artificial deadline precludes sufficient consideration of these issues by the national security professionals in the Departments of State and Defense.
“Congress has statutory authority over foreign arms sales and our responsibilities will not be relinquished. The American public has a right to insist that the sales of U.S. weapons to foreign governments – especially those of this magnitude and lethality – are consistent with U.S. values, our national security objectives, and the safety of our closest allies. The Trump administration’s refusal to answer our questions about how the national security interests of both the U.S. and Israel will be served, or undermined, by such a sale is a surefire way not to get Congressional support to move forward with this sale.”
Two weeks ago, Ranking Member Menendez and Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Jack Reed sent a long list of detailed questions to Secretary of State Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Esper regarding this sale, expressing their concern that the internal process was being rushed and demanding answers as to how the Administration would safeguard the U.S.’s and Israel’s critical military technology inherent in these aircraft. Senator Menendez was then joined by Senator Dianne Feinstein in introducing the Secure F-35 Exports Act of 2020, legislation to reassert Congressional oversight over the sale of sophisticated and mission-critical American military systems.