AmericasArmsMiddle East

Biden Mulls Easing Israeli Access to US Weapons Stockpile

US President Joe Biden seeks to ease nearly all restrictions on Israel’s access to America’s weapons stockpile to facilitate smoother supply of defense items.

The White House wants to ease access to the War Reserve Stockpile Allies-Israel (WRSA-I), an Israel-based US weapons cache set up in the 1980s for use in the event of a regional conflict.

Jerusalem is permitted to access the stockpile, but only in limited circumstances. For example, it can only draw “obsolete” or “surplus” weapons from the cache.

With the new request recently submitted to the US Senate, the Biden administration wants this restriction waived, allowing the nation to procure more sophisticated weapons while curtailing congressional oversight.

The proposed changes would also remove the $200 million yearly limit on the amount Washington can spend refilling the WRSA-I.

The US has been a major ally of Israel, providing $3.8 billion in military aid annually.

‘Diminishing Preparedness’

Although Biden’s move would facilitate the easy transfer of weapons to its Middle Eastern ally, some analysts see lifting nearly all restrictions as risky to US interests.

Former US State Department official Josh Paul claimed the proposal would diminish America’s own military preparedness.

“By dropping the requirement that such articles be declared excess, it would also increase the existing strain on US military readiness in order to provide more arms to Israel,” he told The Intercept.

It would also create a “free-flowing pipeline” of weapons for Israel, as Washington could place any defense articles in the WRSA-I for the nation to access quickly without the need for congressional approval.

Joe Biden
US President Joe Biden. Photo: AFP

‘Undermining Oversight and Accountability’

If approved, the request would lessen the 30-day period by which the US government must notify the US Congress before a weapons transfer.

According to John Ramming Chappell of the Center for Civilians in Conflict, shortening the timeframe would further undermine oversight and accountability.

It would also make it much harder for Congress or the public to monitor US arms transfers to Israel.

Washington’s military aid to Jerusalem has already been under scrutiny because of the alleged non-disclosure of all weapons sent.

So far, the disclosed weapons only reportedly fit in a single, short sentence, contrary to a leaked list obtained by Bloomberg stating that the US has already sent thousands of Hellfire missiles.

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