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Pentagon to Give Israel $70 Million for Iron Dome Defense

The U.S. will provide Israel with $70 million in assistance for its Iron Dome short-range missile defense system, Pentagon officials said today.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta offered the assistance to Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Pentagon spokeswoman Tara Rigler said in a statement.

“My goal is to ensure Israel has the funding it needs each year to produce these batteries that can protect its citizens,” Panetta said in the statement. “That is why going forward over the next three years, we intend to request additional funding for Iron Dome, based on an annual assessment of Israeli security requirements against an evolving threat.”

Pentagon spokesman George Little said the $70 million will be requested in a formal “reprogramming” to Congress that, if approved, will allow a shift of funds in this fiscal year to the Iron Dome system. He said the funding levels for the next three years have yet to be set.

The Pentagon in its fiscal 2013 request didn’t request any specific funds for Iron Dome. The House Appropriations Committee today in its approval of a $519 billion defense budget added $680 million for the Iron Dome system. The money also was authorized by the House Armed Services Committee in its version of the fiscal 2013 defense bill the House is voting on this week.

Iron Dome, built by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., went into operation a year ago and has proved effective at intercepting short-range rockets, according to Israeli and U.S. officials.

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