WASHINGTON (Jun. 16)
National Security Advisor Frank Carlucci said Monday that the Reagan Administration would resubmit its proposal to sell Maverick air-to-ground missiles to Saudi Arabia. The announcement came only five days after the Administration withdrew the proposed sale in the face of almost certain defeat in the Senate.
In a speech before the political action conference of the National Association of American Arabs, Carlucci said there must be “an American willingness to continue to accept our major role” in the Persian Gulf.
He did not elaborate on the missile proposal or say when it would be resubmitted. He contended that opposition to the sale and to U.S. protection of Kuwaiti tankers in the Persian Gulf was sending the “wrong signal” to U.S. allies in the region and could become “an invitation to the Iranians and Soviets.”
Carlucci said the Soviets were increasing their activity in the Middle East by courting U.S. allies with offers of arms sales, relief on military debts, and, in the case of Israel, the prospect of diplomatic ties and increased Jewish emigration. He also noted that the Soviets were promoting and supporting an international peace conference for the region.
“We would like to believe that Soviet verbal protestations of flexibility and commitment to the Middle East peace process are genuine,” Carlucci said. “But theirs is a long history of trouble-making in the region.”
He cited Soviet involvement in the reunification of the Palestine Liberation Organization at the Palestine National Council conference last month in Algiers, “which turned its back on Egypt and Jordan because they support peace.”
The National Security Advisor also reaffirmed U.S. commitment to improving the standard of living for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and working for an international peace conference which would lead to direct, bilateral negotiations between the parties involved.
“To stop the (peace) process at this point — when there is no other one on the horizon — would mean losing a potentially significant opportunity to move closer to peace,” Carlucci said.
Most of Carlucci’s address was a defense of Reagan’s decision to protect Kuwaiti ships in the Gulf as the best way of bringing about peace in the Iran-Iraq war. “We haven’t abandoned U.S. neutrality in the war; we will supply arms to neither side, and ships under our flags will carry no such supplies, no contraband,” Carlucci said. “We are operating in full accordance with international law, threatening or provoking no one, but ready to defend ourselves if attacked.”