Major U.S. defense manufacturers are reported to be wary of calls for the U.S. to punish Saudi Arabia as a response to the disappearance of a critic of the Kingdom’s leadership. President Trump has vowed "severe punishment" for Saudi Arabia if it is found liable for the presumed assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, who had exiled himself from his native country and worked as a journalist for Western publications, and has a history of opposing Riyadh, in particular its crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Khashoggi is missing since entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 2, and presumed dead based on Turkish police sources.
Congressional and other critics of U.S. weapons sales to Saudi Arabia have increased their calls, which are based on its domestic policies and its support for the rebel faction in the civil war in neighboring Yemen. Several weapons deals that require Congressional approval have been delayed over such objections, but the current controversy has not been raised the basis of any official objection.
Boeing Co., Lockheed Martin Corp., and Raytheon top the list of U.S. defense firms with programs supplying Saudi Arabia. No defense manufacturers have commented on the risk to their supply programs.
All three firms were included in the broad, $350-billion, 10-year arms deal agreed to by the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2017.
In an interview with 60 Minutes, Trump expressed an inclination to continue military sales to Saudi Arabia, preferring “other ways of punishing." Those alternatives were not described.