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Soviet Missile Build-up in Cuba Motivated U.S. Sale of Hawks to Israel

October 29, 1962
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Soviet missile build-up in Cuba may not be entirely dissociated from other world trouble spots and developments, including the introduction of missiles in the Arab-Israel cold war, members of Congress were told here this weekend at a top-level briefing.

The American decision to provide defensive, Hawk ground-to-air missiles to Israel was cited as motivated as a response to the Soviet supply of jet bombers and missiles to a number of Arab states, including the United Arab Republic. This was mentioned in a review of the world scene related to the current Soviet-American showdown in Cuba.

Officials said the Hawk decision resulted from a conclusion that an arms imbalance had occurred in the Arab-Israel situation because of Soviet weapons provided to the Arabs. Israel was at a disadvantage, it was said, that increased danger of Arab aggression or a preventive war by Israel, to restore a balance and maintain regional peace, the United States sold the Hawks to Israel.


State Department sources said this weekend that, although the Foreign Assistance Act stipulates that no U.S. economic assistance be given nations permitting their ships to carry cargoes to Cuba, this probably would not be applied to an Arab League state, Lebanon, whose Cuba-bound freighter was the first to be boarded in the U.S. naval blockade operation. The ship, S. S. Marcula, carried a Soviet cargo.

After some foreign ship owners ignored the American request, and foreign governments failed to act, Congress added a clause to the aid bill. It provided that “no economic assistance shall be furnished to any country which sells, furnishes or permits ships under its registry to carry items of economic assistance to Cuba, as long as it is governed by the Castro regime.” The only exemption from this clause is a determination by the White House that severance of aid “would be contrary to the national interests.”

There was speculation here that the Lebanese ship would furnish a test case of the new provision. But the Lebanese Government has reassured Washington of its support of President Kennedy’s Cuban stand. It was still undetermined whether other Lebanese freighter’s would continue in the Soviet-Cuban trade.

Through the year 1961, Lebanon received from the United States $77,000,000 in economic aid, and $9,000,000 in military aid.

(At the United Nations, yesterday, Israel’s delegation chairman, Michael S. Comay, accompanied by his ranking mission aide, Gideon Rafael, deputy director-general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, conferred briefly with Acting Secretary-General U Thant. The fact that this meeting had been squeezed in between Mr. Thant’s world crisis talks with U.S. Ambassador Adlai E. Stevenson and Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Valerian Zorin gave rise to broad speculation as to whether the visit of the Israelis had any direct connection with the Russo-American impasse over Cuba.)

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