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State Dept. Expects to Finish Soon Study of ‘possible Violations’ by Israel in Planes Used in Raid

June 10, 1981
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The State Department said today it expects to complete this week its study on whether there was a “possible violation” by Israel in the use of American made planes to bomb the Iraqi nuclear plant Sunday.

“It is not a question of whether or not American planes were used,” the Department spokesman Dean Fischer said. “It is a question of whether or not the use of those airplanes violates the provisions of the agreement on arms for Israel.”

Fischer said the study was “complex” and could contain many options including the suspension of arms to Israel. He stressed that he was not prejudging the results and that the U.S. was not backing away from its commitments to Israel. The spokesman did not know whether there would be any hold-up on the delivery of four F-16 jets scheduled for delivery to Israel Friday.

The Israelis reportedly used U.S. made F-4’s to attack the nuclear plant, backed by the higher flying F-15’s. The U.S. arms agreement requires Israel and other countries to use the weaponry only for defensive purposes.


While Fischer indicated that this is what would have to be determined by the State Department study, he said he had no details on how the study is being conducted, or in what form the report would go to Congress. Senate majority leader Howard Baker, (R. Tenn.) said today that once Congress sees the report, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold hearings.

Under questioning Fischer repeated that the U.S. condemns Israel for the “unprecedented attack” and maintained that the U.S. had no advance warning. He said he wanted to “reiterate very strongly … we did not know until after the attack.” Fischer also said there was “no collusion” with Israel in the U.S. decision not to announce the attack until II am yesterday even though the U.S. knew about it Sunday afternoon. He said the Department wanted to seek more information and hold consultations. The U.S. announcement came shortly after Israel publicly disclosed the attack.

Fischer also said there was a continuing flow of new information, which was the reason the State Department changed its original statement of “concern” over the attack two hours later to a condemnation. He had no comment on statements from Israel today by Israeli Premier Menachem Begin and Representative Jack Kemp (R. N. Y.) saying the U.S. should have waited for the full Israeli information before issuing its condemnation.

The State Department spokesman maintained that the Israeli attack and the resulting Arab uproar over it will not end the Reagan Administration’s efforts to have them join with the U.S. against Soviet incursion in the Middle East. He said the Administration was “not going to abandon” the policy enunciated by Secretary of State Alexander Haig on his visit to the Mideast in April when he sought to convince the Arab countries that the Soviet Union was the main threat to the area.

Meanwhile, as he did yesterday, Fischer continued to express the hope that the Israeli raid will not affect the mission of Reagan’s special envoy Philip Habib, to ease tension over Lebanon. He said that Habib has resumed his mission and was in Beriut today.

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