Sen. Robert Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is demanding the State Department investigate reports that U.S.-made Javelin anti-tank missiles were illegally transferred to insurgent forces fighting Libya’s internationally recognized government.
The New Jersey Democrat said in a statement Tuesday that if the allegations are proven true, the State Department may be “obligated to terminate all arms sales” to the United Arab Emirates, which originally purchased the Javelins and has backed the rebel Libyan militian headed by Gen. Khalifa Hifter.
News reports last week said the U.S. missiles were found in a Libyan rebel compound captured by government forces as part of the ongoing battle for control of the badly divided country. Markings on the missiles indicated they had been sold to the UAE in 2008.
According to a New York Times report, four Javelin anti-tank missiles were found in the mountains south of Tripoli. Each missile cost more than $170,000 and “had ended up bolstering the arsenal of Gen. Khalifa Hifter, whose forces are waging a military campaign to take over Libya and overthrow a government the United States supports.”
In a letter sent to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Tuesday, Mr. Menendez claimed that if the allegations are true, “this would appear to be a serious violation of United States law. Such a transfer would also almost certainly be a violation of the UN arms embargo on Libya.”
Mr. Menendez also called on the State Department’s inspector general to look into whether Mr. Pompeo or the State Department was aware of the transfer.
The State Department has said it takes any allegation of misuse of U.S. weapons seriously and was seeking more information on the case.
“We expect all recipients of U.S.-origin defense equipment to abide by their end-use obligations,” a department spokesperson told the AFP news service.
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