US to sell Kuwait Patriot anti-ballistic missile system

Image caption,
Patriot batteries are widely in use among US allies

The US government has said it plans to sell Kuwait its latest Patriot anti-ballistic missile system to meet "current and future threats".

The Defense Security Co-operation Agency told Congress in a notice that Kuwait was seeking as many as 209 of the MIM-104E Patriot Guidance Enhanced Missile-T (GEM-T) interceptors.

The deal is valued at $900m (£570m).

While the perceived threats were not specified, analysts said the sale was part of a drive to contain Iran.

Kuwait lies only a short distance from Iran across the Gulf.

"This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a major non-Nato ally which has been, and continues to be, an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East," the DCSA said on its website.

"Kuwait needs these missiles to meet current and future threats of enemy air-to-ground weapons. Kuwait will use the increased capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defence."

The proposed sale would not, the agency said, "alter the basic military balance in the region".

Kenneth Katzman, a Middle East expert at the Congressional Research Service, told the Reuters news agency that the sale was part of preparations "for the possibility that Iran might acquire a nuclear capability".

US officials say Patriot batteries also have been stationed in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

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