LONDON (Jul. 9)
The advantage in the Middle East’s “rocket race” lies this far with Israel, since Israel has shown herself able to build and launch a rocket of her own, while the United Arab Republic must shop around for its rockets, the Sunday Times declared here today.
Commenting on the rocketry development, which he calls “a contest for prestige” rather than a new arms race at this time, the Sunday Times “Scrutator” declares Israel’s very able scientists are entitled to congratulations.” He says there is doubt “that Israel’s Arab neighbors, all of whom are her enemies, could even begin to compete with her in this field.”
According to the commentator, the Israeli rocket shoot “did not take the UAR by surprise, completely. Cairo’s intelligence service apparently got wind or Israel’s plans several weeks ago, for, early in June, the UAR approached the American National Aeronautics and Space Administration in an attempt to obtain rockets for a weather research program at the end of this month. But this called for more hustle than even the Americans can cope with. The UAR will have to wait a little longer before entering the field of exploration of the ionosphere.”
“Scrutator” takes issue with Israel’s Deputy Defense Minister, Shimon Peres, saying that the Arabs do have an alternative “to sitting still, cowed and impotent, under the shadow of an Israeli deterrent.” The Arabs, he continues, “can not produce a counter-deterrent, but they can beg or buy one. It would be an ominous consequence of Israeli rocketry if the UAR felt obliged to ask Russia for like weapons to restore the balance of Middle Eastern power.”
At the moment, says the Sunday Times columnist, the UAR still has a short-term advantage over Israel, militarily, because the UAR has Soviet-made bombers “against which the Israelis at present have no adequate defense.” However, the long-term consequences “will be less serious if the Israeli Government does everything possible to allay misgivings, instead of intensifying them as the Deputy Defense Minister’s statement has done.”