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U.S. Shrugs off Jordanian Purchase of Soviet Arms

The Reagan Administration appeared to shrug off today the announcement by Jordan that it had purchased arms from the Soviet Union, reportedly shoulder-held ground-to-air missiles.

“This would not be the first time Jordan has purchased Soviet equipment,” State Department deputy spokesman Alan Romberg said. “Such a sale would be consistent with Jordan’s long-standing policy of purchasing military hardware from a variety of sources.”

While Jordan has not disclosed details of what it has bought from the Soviet Union, Romberg said “The reported sale appears to be consistent with previous purchases and does not appear to represent any fundamental change in Jordan’s traditional defense procurement practices.”

King Hussein has made no secret that he was seeking missiles from the USSR after the Reagan Administration, last March, withdrew a proposal to sell 1,600 Stinger shoulder-heldground-to-air missiles to Jordan and 1,200 to Saudi Arabia, because of strong opposition to the sale in Congress.

A similar move occurred in 1981 when Congress demanded that a proposed sale of Hawk missiles to Jordan be required to be fixed in place against Jordan’s claimed fear of attack from Syria, so that they could not be used against Israel. Jordan then bought from the Soviet Union 20 mobile batteries of ground-to-air SA-8 missiles and 60 batteries of rapid-fire antiaircraft cannon.

Romberg would not say today whether any arms requests from Jordan were now being considered by the U.S.

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