News24

Kuwait set to buy US missiles

2010-09-01 16:33

Kuwait City - Kuwait plans to buy Patriot missiles from the US but will not allow its territory to be a launch pad for attacks, the defence minister said in statements published on Wednesday.

Sheikh Jaber Mubarak al-Sabah said the planned $900bn Patriot missiles purchase is aimed at boosting the military's capability and should not be "misunderstood".

"We do not purchase arms to launch attacks on others and we do not accept attacks to be launched from our territories against other (countries)," the minister said.

The US has several military bases in Kuwait, including Camp Arifjan, one of the biggest US military facilities in the region. There are between 15 000 and 20 000 US troops stationed in Kuwait.

Oil-rich Kuwait is a staunch ally of the US, which has not ruled out military action against Iran over its controversial nuclear programme.

The US and its ally Israel, as well as other Western countries, believe that Iran seeks to build a nuclear arsenal.

Iran denies allegations

Tehran, which began loading fuel into its Russian-built first nuclear power plant in August, denies the allegations and says its programme is for civil energy purposes only.

Iran has repeatedly warned its Arab neighbours in the Gulf that it will launch missile strikes against them if they allow Washington to use its bases in the area to attack the Islamic republic.

Last month, the Pentagon said it had notified the US Congress about the sale of Patriot missiles saying "Kuwait needs these missiles to meet current and future threats of enemy air-to-ground weapons".

Meanwhile the Kuwaiti defence minister said his country has not made a final decision on the purchase of several French-made Rafale warplanes, saying the army is also looking into other European and US fighters.