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US approves sale of $15 billion missile defence system to Saudi Arabia

(Rptg, correcting headline)
Washington, Oct 7 (UNI) The US Government has approved sale to Saudi Arabia of the advanced Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defence system for $15 billion.
"This sale furthers US national security and foreign policy interests, and supports the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region in the face of Iranian and other regional threats," a State Department statement said yesterday.
The THAAD -- which has already been supplied to Saudi Arabia┬┤s neighbors Qatar and the United Arab Emirates -- is one of the most capable defensive missile batteries in the US arsenal and comes equipped with an advanced radar system.
Its recent deployment by the US military in South Korea to protect against any North Korean strike drew protests from Beijing, who feared its sensors would be able to penetrate into Chinese air space and upset the balance of power.
The State Department said it would advise Congress that, in Saudi hands, the system would act to stabilize the situation in the Gulf and help defend US forces in the region and their allies, who face a growing Iranian missile capability.
"The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region," it said.
UNI XC-SNU 0811/0855