WASHINGTON (CNN) - A senior administration official confirmed to CNN on Saturday that the United States is developing a proposed $20 billion, 10-year arms sales package for Saudi Arabia aimed at giving the Saudi military an upgraded capability to counter Iranian aggression in the Persian Gulf region.
The proposed sale was first reported in the New York Times.
The official spoke to CNN on the condition of anonymity because discussions remain ongoing with the Saudis. And, none of the terms of the package have been finalized.
The future of the package is expected to reverberate in Israel, which has been concerned about Saudi arms deals in the past.
"This is all about Iran," said the official, who noted that the Bush administration is mindful at the same time that Israel must maintain its "qualitative edge" in the region.
One of the most potentially controversial portions of the proposed sale will be the first sale to the Saudis of satellite-guided bombs known as JDAMs. The sale may include both a 500-pound and 2,000 pound version of the aerial bomb.
The Israelis are said to be very concerned about the Saudis having that precision-strike capability. so the United States will discuss basing the weapons as far away from Israel as possible, the official said.
Other elements of the sale include new naval vessels, an advanced version of air-to-air missiles already used by the United States and advanced Patriot missiles.
This entire matter is expected to be a major portion of a meeting next week between Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Saudi officials.
The sale would have to be approved by Congress and the Bush administration is talking about the package at an early stage to avoid opposition from and controversy among lawmakers.