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Storm Brewing in British Political Circles over Sale of Missiles to Qatar

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Something of a storm appeared to be brewing in British political circles today with disclosures that the British Government had apparently authorized the sale of hundreds of ground-to-air missiles and their launchers to the oil-rich Arab sheikdom of Qatar. According to reports today, the Arab sheikdom will spend one million pounds ($2.4 million) on the British Tiger Cat missile and launchers to defend its airfields against “aggression.”

Members of Parliament expressed themselves as not so much concerned over the relatively small size of the transaction but over the inequities of British policy on arms in such a danger area as the Middle East. A number of them were expected to press Prime Minister Harold Wilson for a policy statement.

Russell Kerr, a Labor M.P., said today that “the Middle East is a powder keg already and our best efforts ought to be directed toward easing tension rather than trying to make money out of it.” The Sun, the Australian-owned tabloid, said editorially that when the Tiger Cats are delivered to Qatar, the case for selling arms to Israel will be stronger than ever. It asked; “Why don’t we stop the whole bloody trade or stop kidding?”

The British Government has refused for many months to permit Israel to buy the British-built Chieftain tank here. Israel declares it needs the British heavy tank to offset the heavy tanks supplied to Egypt by the Soviet Union.

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