Says Embargo More Damaging to French Economy Than Israel’s Military Capabilities

President Charles de Gaulle’s recently-imposed embargo on military equipment and spare parts to Israel will do far greater damage to France’s economy than it will to Israel’s military capabilities, according to assessments published here and abroad today. Yitzhak Ironi, director of Israel’s Military Industries, disclosed in a Jerusalem Post Interview that Israel was near self-sufficiency in the production of vital military equipment and spare parts. Reports from Paris quoted the managing director of France’s Dassault aircraft company as saying that France’s aircraft industry stands to lose over $48 million as a direct result of the embargo.

(The first casualty of France’s aircraft manufacturing industry has already been recorded in the reported shutdown Thursday of the Dassault plant at Martignas in the Gironde region which employed 100 technicians and specialists. The plant manufactured Mirage jets and spare parts exclusively for Israel. According to managing director Mons Valliers some 50 to 100 workers will be laid off at another aircraft factory at Merignac, near Bordeaux. He said the embargo has endangered the jobs of some 3,000 aircraft workers all over France, 1,800 of whom are employed by Dassault. He said another aircraft firm likely to suffer serious losses was Sud Aviation which manufactures the Super Frelon helicopters, which Israel used in the Dec. 28 reprisal raid on Beirut Airport, in a factory near Marseilles.)

Mr. Ironi said that all artillery used by Israel, including tank guns and jet fighter cannon, is made in Israel with steel imported from Britain and the United States. He said ammunition, ejector seat cartridges, disposable jet fuel tanks, electronic equipment and propellants for air-to-air rockets were also made in Israel. “We have doubled manpower and tripled production since the Six-Day War.” Mr. Ironi told the Jerusalem Post. He said Israel was not surprised by the extension of the 1967 French embargo on Mirage jets to include spare parts and all other military equipment. “We began to tool in May, 1967 and have prepared dies for the most critical items. What we cannot buy abroad we will make ourselves and there is nothing we cannot produce in the way of arms, ammunition and accessories in the next 12 to 18 months.” Mr. Ironi said. He disclosed that Israel has 5,000 employees working on armaments worth some $100 million a year, some of which are exported.

Prof. Moshe Arens, manager of Israel Aircraft Industries Ltd., said here Friday that the French embargo “will be a blessing to us in the long run and could prove fatal to France’s aircraft industry” which was built on Israeli orders. He said two new French fighter-bombers were not put into production because Israel decided against buying them.

(The Daily Telegraph said in London today that apart from the direct loss of exports to Israel, French heavy industries face a severe drop in confidence among prospective foreign buyers who fear that arbitrary, politically inspired embargoes could be imposed on them. The paper said the defense committee of the French National Assembly was to vote on a resolution Wednesday severely criticizing the embargo on Israel but postponed it out of courtesy to Defense Minister Pierre Messmer who will appear before the committee on Jan. 23.)

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