Advertisement

President Reagan Monday halted U.S. shipments of cluster-bomb type...

By
JIM ANDERSON

WASHINGTON -- President Reagan Monday halted U.S. shipments of cluster-bomb type ammunition to Israel pending a review of possible misuse of the weapons by Israeli forces in Lebanon.

Immediately involved was a shipment of 4,000 155mm artillery shells that had been scheduled to be turned over to Israel Monday. The shells splinter into hundreds of small bomblets that then rain down over a large area.

Advertisement

Other U.S. military supplies to Israel will not be affected. Pentagon officials said the Israelis have some other items on order, but nothing for delivery any time soon.

It was the first such action against the Israelis since last summer.

At that time, the Reagan administration held up sending F-16 and F-15 warplanes because Israel used U.S. F-16s to bomb Iraq's nuclear reactor and to hit Palestine Liberation Organization targets in Beirut that reportedly killed 300 civilians.

Deputy White House press secretary Larry Speakes told reporters that until a review by an inter-government agency is completed, 'there will be no shipments of projectiles or other cluster-bomb related materials' to Israel.

Reagan had asked Israel repeatedly for more than a month for information regarding charges that the use of cluster bombs during the invasion of Lebanon violated a secret agreement with the United States.

Advertisement

The 1978 agreement reportedly forbids the use of the weapons against civilian targets, and provides they can only be used when Israel is faced with attack from more than one Arab opponent.

Israel reportedly told the United States in a letter last Friday - itself classified -- that it had not violated its agreement on the use of the American-supplied anti-personnel bombs because they were only aimed at military targets and since the Israelis at the time were facing both the Palestine Liberation Organization and Syrian forces.

Reporters in Lebanon had reported seeing evidence of the U.S.-made cluster bomb units, dropped from Israeli warplanes in Palestinian refugee camps.

'The president is reviewing the reply from Israel received on Friday and associated factors,' Speakes said. 'The review is taking place by an inter-agency group. They will make recommendations to the president.

'Until that review is complete, there will be no shipments of projectiles or other cluster bomb unit related materials.'

A spokesman for the Israeli embassy, Nachman Shai, said there would be no comment on the administration decision.

Neither the White House now the State Department defined 'associated factors.'

But the decision coincided with the arrival in Washington of two representatives from the Arab League, the foreign ministers of Syria and Saudi Arabia, for meetings with Reagan and Secretary of State George Shultz.

Advertisement

The meetings were regarded as the first opportunity for the Arab world to see first hand if the change in the U.S. foreign policy machine - from Alexander Haig to George Shultz -- will cause any shift in U.S. Middle East policy.

Shultz, in his confirmation hearings last week, stressed continuity of U.S. policy. But he appeared to give more emphasis to the particiaption of the Palestinians in the Middle east negotiations than Haig did.

President Reagan Monday halted U.S. shipments of cluster-bomb type ammunition to Israel pending a review of possible misuse of the weapons by Israeli forces in Lebanon.

Immediately involved was a shipment of 4,000 155mm artillery shells that had been scheduled to be turned over to Israel Monday. The shells splinter into hundreds of small bomblets that then rain down over a large area.

Other U.S. military supplies to Israel will not be affected. Pentagon officials said the Israelis have some other items on order, but nothing for delivery any time soon.

It was the first such action against the Israelis since last summer.

At that time, the Reagan administration held up sending F-16 and F-15 warplanes because Israel used U.S. F-16s to bomb Iraq's nuclear reactor and to hit Palestine Liberation Organization targets in Beirut that reportedly killed 300 civilians.

Advertisement

Deputy White House press secretary Larry Speakes told reporters that until a review by an inter-government agency is completed, 'there will be no shipments of projectiles or other cluster-bomb related materials' to Israel.

Reagan had asked Israel repeatedly for more than a month for information regarding charges that the use of cluster bombs during the invasion of Lebanon violated a secret agreement with the United States.

The 1978 agreement reportedly forbids the use of the weapons against civilian targets, and provides they can only be used when Israel is faced with attack from more than one Arab opponent.

Israel reportedly told the United States in a letter last Friday - itself classified -- that it had not violated its agreement on the use of the American-supplied anti-personnel bombs because they were only aimed at military targets and since the Israelis at the time were facing both the Palestine Liberation Organization and Syrian forces.

Reporters in Lebanon had reported seeing evidence of the U.S.-made cluster bomb units, dropped from Israeli warplanes in Palestinian refugee camps.

'The president is reviewing the reply from Israel received on Friday and associated factors,' Speakes said. 'The review is taking place by an inter-agency group. They will make recommendations to the president.

Advertisement

'Until that review is complete, there will be no shipments of projectiles or other cluster bomb unit related materials.'

A spokesman for the Israeli embassy, Nachman Shai, said there would be no comment on the administration decision.

Neither the White House now the State Department defined 'associated factors.'

But the decision coincided with the arrival in Washington of two representatives from the Arab League, the foreign ministers of Syria and Saudi Arabia, for meetings with Reagan and Secretary of State George Shultz.

The meetings were regarded as the first opportunity for the Arab world to see first hand if the change in the U.S. foreign policy machine - from Alexander Haig to George Shultz -- will cause any shift in U.S. Middle East policy.

Shultz, in his confirmation hearings last week, stressed continuity of U.S. policy. But he appeared to give more emphasis to the particiaption of the Palestinians in the Middle east negotiations than Haig did.

After a two-hour meeting with Shultz, Saudi foreign minister Saud al-Faisal told reporters that he was convinced 'of the serious intentions and the good motivations' of the U.S. government toward the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Lebanon.

Asked if there was any progress made on the evacuation of the Israeli troops, Saud said, 'if there is any shortcoming ... it is the lack of response from Israel as to what they would do in response to the withdrawal of the Palestinian troops from Beirut. Would the siege of Beirut be raised (lifted) if the Palestinians leave?'

Advertisement

He said, 'What is lacking is whether the Israelis will raise the siege if the Palestinians leave. This is by no means clear.'

Syrian foreign minister Abdel Halim Khaddam said, 'We asked the United States to assume its responsibility as permanent member of U.N. Security Council and as the country that extends huge economic and military assistance to Israel to put an end to the Israeli military aggression in Lebanon.'

Neither foreign minister would go further, pending Tuesday's scheduled meeting with President Reagan at the White House.

Latest Headlines