WASHINGTON (Dec. 21)
The U.S. State and Commerce Departments are investigating “all possible routes” by which Rhodesia recently obtained American-made Bell helicopters of the type sold to Israel, but thus far no evidence exists that Israel has contravened its pledges, the State Department said today.
Transfer of such equipment to Rhodesia by either American companies or individuals or by them through foreign entities, violates U.S. regulations issued in view of United Nations sanctions against Rhodesia, the Department said. Responding to questions about the transfer, Department spokesman Thomas Reston said the U.S. had reports from sources he did not identify, that those helicopters belonged to Israel, but, he added, “up to this point there is no evidence Israel has permitted the transfer of those aircraft in violation of its undertakings.”
Reston said that “Israel did sell some” Bell aircraft to an American commercial firm. “As for as we know,” he added, that sale was “in accordance with U.S. requirements.” He said he could not provide the company’s name because the Commerce Department considers that to be “proprietary information.” He indicated that the helicopters were transferred to Asia but he could not say where or to whom.