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UAE set to buy Predator drones from Calif. defense contractor

| Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, 8:42 p.m.

The United Arab Emirates is close to purchasing Predator drones from a San Diego County defense contractor, sparking concern among arms control advocates.

Under the proposed sale, revealed last week at a defense conference in Abu Dhabi and confirmed on Friday, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. of Poway, Calif., will sell an undisclosed number of the robotic aircraft to the UAE armed forces for $197 million.

The agreement would mark the first time a non-NATO country has obtained the American-made technology, which has reshaped modern warfare.

The deal has drawn scrutiny from critics who worry about the technology falling into terrorists' hands or being used by governments against their citizens.

The UAE, notably the city-state of Dubai, has been a crossroads for banking, finance and technology as the nation emerged as an economic hub for the Arab world. It has only recently begun to tighten regulations to limit money laundering and other shady financial endeavors that attracted Islamic militants, drug smugglers and other traffickers.

Over the past year, UAE security officials, who have drawn criticism for their surveillance tactics, have cracked down on internal dissent after the political upheavals of the Arab Spring.

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