U.S. State Dept. Approves Long-Delayed Potential Sale of Javelin Missiles to Brazil

A U.S. soldier from Dragon Troop of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment fires a Javelin missile system during training exercise near operating base Gamberi in the Laghman province of Afghanistan January 1, 2015. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo
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WASHINGTON, Aug 9 (Reuters) – The U.S. State Department approved a potential $74 million sale of Javelin anti-tank missiles to Brazil that had been stalled for months by senior lawmakers, according to a formal notification sent to the U.S. Congress on Tuesday.

The State Department gave the package of 222 Javelins its final endorsement after what multiple sources said was a Democratic-led effort to hold it up due to concerns about far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, including his attacks on Brazil’s electoral system.

The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said it informed Congress of the possible sale of the cutting-edge missiles, which have won fame for their effective use by Ukrainian forces against Russian armor. They are produced jointly by Raytheon Technologies Corp (RTX.N) and Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N).

The announcement came a day after Reuters was first to report on the delay in the deal.

Brazil’s bid to acquire the missiles was originally made when former President Donald Trump, a Bolsonaro ally, was in the White House. The State Department gave a preliminary nod to the proposal late last year, despite objections from some lower-ranking U.S. officials, according to people familiar with the matter.

But the deal was held up after it was sent for a confidential “informal” review by the two Democratic chairs and two Republican ranking members of Congress’ foreign relations committees.

Senator Bob Menendez and Representative Gregory Meeks, Biden’s fellow Democrats, had peppered the State Department with questions since early this year, the sources said. Many other weapons deals have sailed through in a few months.

It was not immediately clear why the senior lawmakers finally allowed the Brazil deal to move ahead.

Pushing back against the lawmakers’ questions about whether Brazil had a legitimate need for such weaponry, the DSCA said it would the improve the security of an important U.S. regional partner and enhance its ability “to meet future threats.”

Formally notifying the full Congress of a proposed arms sale opens a time-limited window – normally 30 days – during which lawmakers can block it by passing a resolution in both the House of Representatives and Senate. Such a step is rarely taken, however.

Despite approval by the State Department, the notification does not indicate that a contract has been signed or that negotiations have concluded.

Reporting By Mike Stone, Matt Spetalnick Patricia Zengerle, Paul Grant; Editing by Chris Gallagher and Aurora Ellis
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