SANTIAGO - Chile's government said on Thursday any eventual purchase of U.S. missiles and radar equipment will be infinitely lower than a possible $665 million purchase the Pentagon has disclosed.
The Pentagon on Thursday advised the U.S. Congress of the possible sale of stinger missiles worth about $455 million, AIM medium-range missiles worth $145 million and Sentinel radar systems worth $65 million.
The notice of the proposed sale is required by U.S. law and the U.S. Congress has the power to reject a transaction, although it rarely does so.
Those are the maximum figures. If the Chilean Air Force and Army eventually buy those systems in the United States, it will be for an infinitely inferior figure, because the needs do not correspond to those financial amounts, Chilean Defense Minister Francisco Vidal told reporters.
Vidal said the government was considering purchasing such materials to upgrade its existing arsenal, and said any such deal would simply align it with the United States without affecting basic military balance in the region.
In recent years, neighboring Peru has accused Chile of waging an arms race. Chile's armed forces have benefited from years of windfall copper earnings, thanks to a law which guarantees them 10 percent of state copper giant Codelco's sales. The government has sent a bill to Congress that aims to scrap the sales tax Codelco pays the military.
(Reporting by Bianca Frigiani; writing by Simon Gardner; editing by Mohammad Zargham)