Israel Embassy Angered by Charges

The Israel Embassy here reacted with anger Wednesday to what it said were “unfounded” charges that Israel illegally sought to import technology from the United States in order to make cluster bombs. Yosef Gal, the Embassy spokesman, read a statement in which he said the Israeli Ministry of Defense had investigated the charges and “categorically” denies Israel had done anything illegal.

“The Ministry of Defense asserts that the raising of this subject arouses much amazement and may unjustly cause damage to Israel’s reputation and spoil the good relations prevailing between the United States and Israel, “Gal said. “Israel regards with gravity the fact that this matter has been published before the facts have been clarified,” he added.

David Hoover, a spokesman for the U.S. Customs Service, confirmed Wednesday that search warrants have been issued for two Iowa companies, Vector Corp., of Marion, and Bexco International, of Cedar Rapids, and Assembly Machines, Inc., of Erie, Pa.

He said subpoenas have been issued for employes of the companies as well as members of the Israeli Defense Ministry’s Procurement Mission in New York. He would give no further details on the investigation which was first revealed by CBS News Tuesday night. The State Department would not comment on the case Wednesday.

Gal said that Israel’s cluster bombs and the bomblets they contain have been developed and manufactured by Israel’s military industries. He said the Procurement Mission was asked to acquire various industrial equipment from the U.S. needed for production of the weapon.

Gal stressed that the Mission, acting “according to procedure, applied for export licenses from the U.S. Department of State. All applications have been lawfully made and no item, small or big, related to this subject is exported from the United States to Israel without a lawful permit.”

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