"Today, I made a determination pursuant to section 36 of the Arms Export Control Act and directed the Department [of State] to immediately complete the formal notification of 22 pending arms transfers to Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia totaling approximately $8.1 billion to deter Iranian aggression and build partner self-defense capacity," Pompeo said on Friday.
"These sales will support our allies, enhance Middle East stability and help these nations to deter and defend themselves from the Islamic Republic of Iran," Pompeo said as cited by AFP.
Pompeo said this move would be a "one-time event." He emphasized that these arms transfers are critical for the United States' partners in the region to be able to provide for their own self-defense and to back US forces in the region.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) May 24, 2019
The equipment includes aircraft support maintenance; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; munitions; and other supplies, Pompeo noted.
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) May 24, 2019
Earlier in the day, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Menendez said in a press release that the Trump administration had invoked a provision in US foreign arms sales legislation that would allow the White House to bypass Congress and sell weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and others.
US President Donald Trump has publicly stated he would not end support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen for fear of losing business with Riyadh, which he previously estimated to be around $100 billion.
Menendez said Trump cited the threat from Iran as one of the reasons for invoking the emergency clause.
Under the Arms Control Act of 1976, presidents are required to notify Congress of any pending arms sales, and if sales are meant for the Middle East, to certify that any shipments would not adversely affect Israel's qualitative military advantage over its regional neighbours. Congress, for its part, can block any arms sale simply by passing a resolution of disapproval.
Earlier on Friday, US President Donald told reporters the United States was sending 1,500 additional troops to the Middle East region in order to deter threats from Iran. The United States in recent weeks has built up its forces in the Middle East in response to alleged disturbing activities.
Washington ramped up pressure on Tehran, designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization and deploying a carrier strike group and a bomber task force with nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to the Middle East.
Tehran reciprocated by designating the US Central Command (CENTCOM) terrorists, and announcing that it will suspend some of its voluntary obligations under the JCPOA.