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April 22, 2013 7:38 am

Hagel Announces Massive New Arms Deal with Israel and Arab Nations

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Israel's Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, during dinner with US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem, on April 21, 2013. Photo: Israel Ministry of Defense

U.S. Secretary of State Chuck Hagel has announced a massive new arms deal with Israel and two Arab nations, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Hagel, who is currently in Israel as part of a weeklong trip to the Middle East, said that the $10 billion arms deal sends a clear signal to Iran.

“The bottom line is that Iran is a threat, a real threat,” Hagel said, Reuters reported. “The Iranians must be prevented from developing that capacity to build a nuclear weapon and deliver it.”

The deal with Israel includes the sale of KC-135 aerial refueling planes, new missiles for fighter aircraft and V-22 Osprey transport planes.

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The agreement, while boosting key Arab allies in the region, also maintains Israel’s military superiority in the region.

“This not only sustains but augments Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region,” a U.S. official told Reuters.

Hagel, who came under intense scrutiny after being nominated for Secretary of Defense over his positions on Israel and Iran and was confirmed in a historically close 58-41 Senate vote, sought to put the controversy behind him on the Middle East trip. Hagel said that there is “no daylight at all” between the U.S. and Israel on Iran and that Israel would decide for itself whether to take a pre-emptive strike on Iran. His first visit upon arrival in Israel was to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum.

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