WASHINGTON (Apr. 22)
The Washington Evening Star reported today that the Big Four are discussing a ban on arms shipments to the Middle East, a development that could lead to the suspension of the shipment of 50 F-4 Phantom jet supersonic fighter-bombers which the United States has agreed to sell Israel. The Star’s UN correspondent, William R. Frye, said “Moscow’s willingness to include arms control on the Big Four Mideast agenda was regarded by Western diplomats as a significant step forward.” But “whether any progress has been made toward agreement on this point in the highly secret talks is not known,” Mr. Frye wrote. He said that Soviet acceptance of an arms embargo as a talking point for the Big Four was welcomed by the U.S. and Britain and was regarded as a reason for optimism about the Four Power meeting.
Under consideration, he said, was a selective ban on “certain kinds of weapons.” These would include nuclear weapons, long range missiles and combat planes with a specified performance capability. The “denial of such hardware would help keep any future Arab-Israel war from escalating out of control,” he said. Big power “ability to loosen or tighten restraints on arms sales would give them considerable political leverage which they could use to bring about and influence peace negotiations,” Mr. Frye said.
An arms restriction agreement would affect U.S. arms sales to Jordan and Saudi Arabia as well as to Israel. British and French sales would also be affected.