WASHINGTON (Aug. 5)
The State Department today admitted “certain” military items are not being delivered to Israel but denied that the supply pipeline is closed. The denial came after a report that the United States has suspended or slowed delivery to cause the Israeli government to make more concessions towards a second interim agreement with Egypt.
Department spokesman Robert Anderson said that the U.S. has shipped more than $100 million of military equipment to Israel since April 1. He would not say what the equipment was. “There are certain items where deliveries have not been made for such reasons as not being available, production schedules and special technology.” Anderson added. “As we have indicated previously, requests for some items representing new or advanced technology remain pending until completion of the reassessment.”
Despite Anderson’s denial, reports persisted that the slowdown or suspension of deliveries for materials contracted for before President Ford announced his reassessment of American Mideast policy in March is actually taking place.
Observers wondered why the State Department chose April 1 as a date to discuss deliveries. Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger had disclosed early last spring that shipments to Israel would be completed in April. Thus it appeared to some observers that military items could be going forward at a trickle to keep the pipeline technically open but the bulk of the materials–which Anderson said had been shipped since April–actually were made about four months ago and little has gone forward since then.
Under questioning, Anderson denied that political reasons are the basis for inducing Israel to be “more forthcoming” on a new agreement and that the State Department has instructed the Pentagon and the U.S. Munitions Control Board to slowdown or halt shipments to Israel. “I rule out the question of political pressure.” he said. “I don’t accept the word ‘pressure.’” he said.