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Defense Secretary Pledges U.S. Will Buy More Arms from Israel

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Israel’s weapons sales to the United States rose from $9 million in 1983 to $250 million in 1987 and “will continue to grow,” U.S. Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci said Sunday.

“There is little doubt that purchases from Israel will continue to grow, even with severe fiscal pressures on U.S. defense spending,” Carlucci said in a speech to the opening session of the 29th annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

The AIPAC conference, being held through Tuesday at the Washington Sheraton Hotel, features appearances by Foreign Minister Shimon Peres of Israel and several prominent members of the U.S. Congress.

Carlucci, who described Israel as “a faithful friend in a turbulent region,” said, ” Israel will remain an important source of (weapons) systems that are proven and ready in some cases, saving the United States the time and expense of developing its own.”

Carlucci spoke one month after Israel and the United States signed a memorandum of agreement that institutionalized the meetings of economic, political and military working groups of the two countries.

The immense increase of American military purchases from Israel stems from an earlier agreement, the memorandum of understanding on strategic cooperation signed in 1983.

Carlucci made the point that Israel is the largest single recipient of American security assistance, “all in the form of grants, not loans,” the defense secretary stressed.

AID FOR WEAPONS DEVELOPMENT

He said U.S. funds have gone to support “every major weapons system” built by Israel, including fighter planes, surveillance aircraft and tanks.

Also, according to Carlucci, the Pentagon spends 54 percent of its budget allocated for the evaluation of foreign weapons on testing weapons made in Israel.

He said American funds are now being used to upgrade the Israeli navy’s coastal patrol force.

Carlucci also noted that Israel is one of four American allies working on the Strategic Defense Initiative and is building in that connection an experimental anti-tactical ballistic missile known as the “Arrow.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s former ambassador to the United Nations, also spoke at the AIPAC conference and received an award “for conveying Israel’s case to the American people.”

Netanyahu, who plans to run for election to the Knesset on the Likud ticket in November, stressed that Israel cannot give up the West Bank for security reasons. Insisting that territory was important even in the missile age, the former envoy warned that when the Iran-Iraq war ends, Israel could face an Arab attack on its eastern front, the Jordan River.

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