WASHINGTON (Jan. 31)
The United States Government gave West Germany permission to sell American-made M-48 medium tanks to Israel, it was officially disclosed here this weekend. The permission was requested by the Bonn Government last fall, it was revealed, in pursuance of an agreement with the U. S. A., forbidding Germany to resell or transfer the tanks to any other country without Washington’s approval.
West Germany purchased 1,000 of the tanks in 1957 and 1958. The 49-ton tanks are equipped with a 90-millimeter gun. The United States rid itself of 1,000 of these weapons when they were replaced by a later model, the M-60. Officials here have refused to tell how many of the M-48’s Germany has transferred to Israel, but said the number is “substantial.”
Officials who disclosed the tank deal have been reluctant to discuss the entire matter. They conceded, however, that recent increases in the shipment of Soviet arms to the Arab countries, especially Egypt, might have altered the balance of arms in the Middle East to Israel’s disadvantage. According to official sources here, Israel has had fewer tanks and planes than Egypt, and this imbalance was further aggravated by Egypt’s recent acquisition of more modern, medium tanks and MIG jet fighters from the Soviet Union.