Reagan Halts Shipment of Cluster Bombs to Israel Pending Review

The White House announced today that President Reagan has halted the shipment of cluster bomb ammunition and parts to Israel pending his review of Israel’s explanation of their use in Lebanon.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Larry Speakes said Israel’s formal reply to U.S. requests for an explanation was received late last Friday and was under study. “Until that review is completed, there will be no shipments of artillery projectiles or other cluster bomb unit-related materials,” Speakes said. He said the President’s order did not affect the shipment of other military material due to go to Israel.

Earlier, State Department spokesman Dean Fischer confirmed that the U.S. had received a “formal reply” from Israel to Washington’s “repeated” requests to Israel on the use of cluster bombs in Lebanon. He noted that the reply was “classified” as was the Administration’s letter to Congress last Friday indicating there were grounds to believe that Israel had violated its arms agreement with the U.S. by using American-made weapons in Lebanon.

According to an Israel Radio report, the reply from Jerusalem denied there had been a violation of any agreement with the U.S. by the use of cluster bombs. The Israelis claimed that Syria’s entry into the fighting in Lebanon turned it into a “full scale war” and that Israel used the bombs for defense purposes only and only against military targets.

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