WASHINGTON (Jul. 13)
A Congressional effort will be made this week to block the Ford Administration’s attempt to sell a modern air defense system to Jordan costing about $350 million. The Administration announced the proposed sale in a letter to Congress Friday. Sen. Clifford P. Case (R, NJ), a member of the Senates Foreign Relations Committee, introduced legislation late Friday to bar the sale, and similar legislation is expected in the House tomorrow by Rep. Benjamin Rosenthal (D. NY) and other congressman.
The White House letter said the U.S. plans to sell 14 batteries of “Hawk” ground-to-air missiles costing $260 million and eight batteries of “Vulcan” anti-aircraft guns for about $90 million. Case scored the Administration because the letter to Congress did not also say that the U.S. plans to sell Jordan about 300 shoulder-fired “Redeye” anti-aircraft missiles for about $4 million.
Under a new law the President must inform Congress of any military sale of $25 million or more and Congress has 20 days in which to do nothing or to block the sale. The “Redeye” missile sale is under $25 million but Case said Congress should have been informed of their proposed sale. He said he was concerned because they were highly portable and “might fall into the hands of terrorists in the Middle East.”
The “Hawk” missile deal, which was disclosed following King Hussein’s visit to Washington in May, was believed earlier to be about $100 million. The House International Relations Committee last week had postponed a hearing on the sale until this week in order to forestall a possibly angry debate on the Mideast while Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger was holding a series of conferences on the Middle East in Europe.
IN NATIONAL INTEREST OF U.S.
The Administration’s letter to Congress said the sale “would be in the national interest of the United States, strengthening Hussein’s internal position and reinforcing Jordan’s policies of moderation at a time when Jordan was under heavy political pressure from outside forces (including the PLO) and when the morale of its armed forces was suffering from the absence of any air defense.”
The letter stressed that the sale would not alter Israel’s “overwhelming military superiority” over Jordan but would give Jordan confidence in deterring an attack from anywhere enabling it to continue its policy of moderation and of close ties to the United States.