WASHINGTON (Apr. 2)
The Reagan Administration officially informed Congress Thursday that Israel has been selling weapons and providing technical assistance to South Africa “on a regular basis” despite the United Nations Security Council embargo on arms to that country imposed in 1977.
The Administration, in its long expected report on countries violating the embargo, also said that it “believes” companies in Israel, France and Italy, have continued to maintain and upgrade arms systems supplied to South Africa before the 1977 embargo.
The report identifying countries breaking the embargo was required as part of the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act adopted by Congress in 1986. It was scheduled to be delivered to Congress April 1, but for unexplained reasons the State Department was not able to get it in to the hands of Senators and House members, until a day later.
The State Department released Thursday a three-page summary of the longer more detailed report which is classified.
FINDINGS ARE NOT SURPRISING
The findings, at least in the summary, is not surprising. Israel, in anticipation of the report, announced March 18 that it has banned all new sales to South Africa, although it would honor existing contracts.
State Department spokesman Charles Redman noted Thursday that the Administration has discussed the arms embargo with the countries listed over the years.
He noted the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act requires the Administration to identify countries breaking the embargo and allows the President to “consider as a possible sanction whether the U.S. should terminate military assistance to such countries.” The President’s action would have to be approved by a joint resolution of Congress, he added.
Israel is the only country mentioned that receives military aid from the U.S., $1.8 billion in grants. There is no likelihood that aid to Israel would be eliminated or even cut. But the issue could further fuel the tension between the U.S. and Israel ignited by the Pollard spy case and the Iran affair.
The report stresses that most of the major weapons systems that South Africa has were installed prior to 1977. Most of the weapons it now imports are small, which the report notes makes it “difficult to detect.”
NO DETAILS GIVEN IN PUBLIC REPORT
The public report does not go into details about the weapons and covers the violations by countries in three paragraphs, the largest of which deals with Israel.
“Prior to the Israeli government’s decision on March 18 not to sign new military contracts and to let existing contracts expire, Israel appears to have sold military systems and subsystems and provided technical assistance on a regular basis,” the report said. “Although Israel does not require end-use certificates and some cut-outs may have been used, we believe that the government was fully aware of most or all of the trade.”
The report adds that “there is no evidence” that Israel supplied South Africa with U.S. manufactured or licensed weapons. But it adds that “in the absence of inspection of Israeli-made or licensed weapons in South African hands” the U.S. does not know whether South Africa has Israeli weapons that were made using U.S. technology.
The report notes that the Security Council embargo made it mandatory not to supply weapons to South Africa, but only “called upon” countries to terminate contracts for maintaining weapons under existing contracts. This “limited exception” “does not authorize deliveries of arms under preexisting contracts,” the report said.
In addition to France, Italy and Israel, the report also points out that “companies in (West) Germany, England, the Netherlands “have on occasion exported articles covered by the embargo without government permission or have engaged in sales to South Africa in the gray area between civilian and military applications.”