US helps Israel improve 'military edge' with major arms deal
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel listens to Israeli Minister of Defence Moshe Yaalon (R) speaking during a joint press conference following a meeting at the Ministry of Defence on April 22, 2013 in Tel Aviv, Israel. (Photo: AFP)
US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said on Monday the US is committed to maintaining and improving Israel's military edge in the Middle East, according to reports.
During a joint press conference with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon in Tel Aviv, Hagel said the US will permit Israel to buy various new weapons, including US missiles and advanced radars for its strike aircraft.
The deal comes as part of a $10bn arms package involving Israel, the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
On Sunday, Hagel told reporters a major US arms deal with Israel would send a “very clear signal” to Iran that military action remains an option to stop it from going nuclear.
He also said Israel has the right to decide for itself whether to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities, telling reporters: “Iran presents a threat in its nuclear program and Israel will make the decisions that Israel must make to protect itself and defend itself. ”
Iran claims its nuclear program is for entirely peaceful, civilian purposes.
Hagel kicked off his a week-long, five-country regional tour of the Middle East on Sunday.