Jerusalem (Oct. 18)
Informed sources said today that Egypt has asked Russia to supply it with missiles or jets capable of striking civilian centers inside Israel. According to the sources the request for long range offensive weapons was made by President Anwar Sadat during his visit to Moscow last week and may be part of a new weapons deal to be worked out by an Egyptian military mission that remained in Moscow after Sadat’s departure.
The sources admitted they had no information as to whether the Russians agreed to provide all the equipment Egypt is asking for. It is understood that the arms deal will take two or three months to finalize and that Egypt will have to pay a high political price–the strengthening of leftist elements in Cairo and efforts to improve relations between Russia and Libya. Egypt’s new federation partner, and with Sudan where a pro-Moscow coup was thwarted last summer.
Israeli sources said the government has passed on to the United States its intelligence on the new Soviet-Egyptian arms deal and its implications for the security of Israel’s civilian population. They said that this was behind Secretary of State William P. Rogers’ promise last week to carefully re-examine the balance of military strength in the Middle East. Israeli circles are inclined to view with greater concern last week’s flight of two Soviet MIG-23 jets into Israel-controlled airspace now that the nature of Egypt’s arms request to Moscow has come to light. They regard the flight as a demonstration by the Russians that Israeli coastal cities are vulnerable to air attack.