Washington (Jun. 28)
Secretary of State Alexander Haig confirmed today that the Reagan Administration would “delay” submission to Congress of its proposed sale of AWACS reconnaissance aircraft and other material to Saudi Arabia but he said the Administration was still committed to the AWACS sale.
Answering questions on the CBS-TV “Face the Nation” program, Haig said the Administration is still in the process of developing arrangements for the arms package and that it is “very important that the arrangements be known and understood by those who have reservations as to the sale.”
The Administration had been expected to send the arms package proposal to Congress some time early in July. But late last week, Sen. Charles
Percy (R. III.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Sen. Paul Laxalt (R. Nev.), urged a delay in the wake of a letter to President Reagan from 54 Senators calling on him to withdraw the proposals. Haig said submission of the proposals to Congress will also depend on timing as recommended by the Senate leadership.
He rejected claims that Saudi oil was involved in any way in the AWACS sale. He said what the U.S. was “concerned about” in the sale was the security of oil in Saudi Arabia and “overall regional security.”
Replying to questions on another subject, Haig said he was “appalled” by the statement of President Saddam Hussein of Iraq calling for a nuclear “Arab bomb.” He said the Reagan Administration was committed to a policy of non-proliferation and would take “counteraction” to prevent proliferation in such countries as Pakistan, with which the U.S. recently signed an arms agreement002E
He said he could give “no prediction” as to whether or when the Administration will make a judgement that Israel did or did not violate its arms agreement with the U.S. by using American planes to destroy Iraq’s nuclear reactor on June 7, or whether or when the U.S. will decide to lift the suspension on delivery of four F-16 fighter planes to Israel.
He said that any judgement on Israel will be made by the Administration in cooperation with Congress but he didn’t know if they would ever reach a “juridical” decision.
Haig stressed that the U.S. condemnation of the Israeli raid on Iraq’s reactor is based upon the belief that Israel had not exhausted all diplomatic means. He said the U.S. action did not mean any change in the “basic relationship with the government of Israel.”