WASHINGTON (May. 17)
Republican members of the U.S. Congress today indicated that they are contemplating direct representations to President Eisenhower against the continued shipment of American munitions to Saudi Arabia, as an American freighter carrying ammunition to that country sailed this morning from a remote Atlantic port, located at Sunny Point, North Carolina.
Democratic members of Congress, led by Senator Estes Kefauver, Sen. Herbert Lehman and Representative Emanuel Celler, today denounced Secretary of State John Foster Dulles for authorizing another shipment of arms to Saudi Arabia at a time when Israel has not been permitted to obtain arms in the United States. Sen. Lehman stated that he would demand an inquiry.
The State Department, in an effort to justify today’s shipment of munitions to Saudi Arabia, said that the arms were a part of previously approved orders placed by Saudi Arabia in this country. State Department press officer Lincoln White claimed that Israel was receiving communications and other defensive equipment from the United States under an order also previously approved.
Sen. Kefauver, in a statement issued today, said: “Once again the Eisenhower Administration has attempted to operate under a veil of secrecy in sending a shipment of munitions to Saudi Arabia which can only serve further to upset the precarious balance of arms in the Middle East. Even more alarming is the fact that the Administration persists in calling such shipments ‘routine.’ There is certainly nothing ‘routine’ about actions which could trigger off an explosion in that area of the world from which only the Soviet bloc stands to gain any advantage.”
Sen. Lehman called the shipment of another transport of arms to Saudi Arabia an “affront” to Americans of all faiths. He said: “At the same time that our government refuses to make arms available to Israel–on the flimsiest of justifications–we continue to ship arms to Saudi Arabia, a country which is not only pledged to the destruction of Israel, but which intolerably outrages our sense of decency by discriminating against Americans because of their religious faith.”
Rep. Celler said the shipment “highlights the dangerous, impossible and contradictory position” of the administration in supplying arms to Arab nations while denying them to Israel. “If it is a shipment of military supplies to Saudi Arabia, it is labeled a ‘routine’ operation, but the shipment of such equipment to Israel, we are told, would be an arms race,” he stated.
“We have supplied Iraq with arms and Saudi Arabia with arms and offered arms to Egypt. And yet, in questioning before Congress, Mr. Dulles has said, ‘America is not the traditional supplier of arms to the Middle East,’” Rep. Celler continued. “It seems that if the Arab nations need further encouragement to truculence, we have given it to them. The latest shipment was inviting disaster and bankrupting our moral leadership.”