US State Department spokesperson says the administration is "temporarily pausing the implementation" of a number of defense sales "to allow incoming leadership an opportunity to review."
US President Joe Biden's administration has temporarily frozen for review a massive package of F-35 jets to the United Arab Emirates and arms to Saudi Arabia.
The nearly week-old administration has already signaled it plans to end support for the Saudi-led, UAE-backed offensive in Yemen, which is facing a humanitarian catastrophe.
A State Department spokesperson said on Wednesday the administration is "temporarily pausing the implementation" of a number of defense sales "to allow incoming leadership an opportunity to review."
"This is a routine administrative action typical to most any transition, and demonstrates the administration's commitment to transparency and good governance," the spokesperson said.
The move is also aimed at "ensuring US arms sales meet our strategic objectives of building stronger, interoperable and more capable security partners."
The most high-profile sale is a $23 billion package of top-of-the-line F-35 jets to the United Arab Emirates.
Former president Donald Trump's administration agreed to the sale – the first of the stealth-capable planes to an Arab nation – after the United Arab Emirates agreed to recognise Israel.
A potential halt to the sale could raise questions about whether the United Arab Emirates will continue its normalisation with Israel, which Trump saw as a key foreign policy achievement.
Congressional critics have expressed disapproval with such sales, including a major deal with Saudi Arabia, that then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pushed through after bypassing lawmakers by declaring an emergency required it.
The package to the United Arab Emirates also included unarmed drones, while the United States has been preparing major sales of munitions to Saudi Arabia.
The critics have alleged the weapons could be used to prosecute Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen, which is the home of one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.
Less than a month after the November 10 UAE sale was announced, an effort to block the deal fell short in the Senate, which failed to halt it.
Senators argued the sale of the defence equipment had unfolded too quickly and with too many questions.
The administration has billed it as a way to deter Iran, but UAE would have become the first Arab nation — and only the second country in the Middle East, after Israel — to possess the stealth warplanes.
Trump had explicitly backed arms sales on commercial grounds, saying that the Saudis were creating US jobs by buying from US manufacturers.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during his confirmation hearing that the Saudi offensive against Yemen's Houthi rebels, who are backed by Iran, has contributed to the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen