WASHINGTON (Jan. 27)
The United States Sinai field mission ceased operations Friday as on early warning system in the western Sinai which was established at the request of the Israeli and Egyptian governments with the return of the area to the Egyptians.
The field mission, the State Department said Friday will take up its new verification responsibilities on Feb. 1 in the western two-thirds of Sinai on the basis of the trilateral talks here last September. Under the security arrangements agreed upon at that time by Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and Egyptian Defense Minister Kamal Hassan Ali, the mission will verify the provisions of the treaty that relate to military force levels, fortifications and installations.
The United States agreed to increase current photo surveillance flights to one a week, verify force levels through on-the-ground inspection at least twice a month, perform additional verifications at the request of either Egypt or Israel and promptly report the results of these verifications to both parties.
The State Department’s report on the mission also said that the mission will conduct on site inspections within the designated zones and because of the large geographic area of responsibility – about two-thirds of the Sinai – the mission will make extensive use of helicopters. The mission is expected to be engaged in its new operations until April 25, 1982.
The State Department also said that the mission will be staffed only by U.S. civilians, including helicopter flight and maintenance personnel. An estimated 142 Americans will staff the new operation at a cost of $16 million.
Asked whether the United Nations would have a role in the Sinai, the State Department said “the United States has assumed full responsibility for verification of forces and armaments limitation in zones A and B and inspection of the Israeli technical installations in the buffer zone. We nevertheless believe a continuing United Nations presence will be useful. The precise role the United Nations will have is still a subject of discussion” between the U.S. and the UN.