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December 13, 1991 - Image 42

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-12-13

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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FOR LESS

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Plus tax, plates, destination charges

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35

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!Oldsmobile

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Israel Made Sales
Of Arms To Iran

Washington (JTA) — Sec-
retary of State James Baker
said that it is possible that
the Reagan administration
allowed Israel to sell billions
of dollars worth of U.S.-made
arms to Iran in 1981 when
such sales were officially
banned.
Appearing on the CBS-TV
news program "Face the
Nation," Mr. Baker was
commenting on a front-page
story to that effect published
in the New York Times.
"I don't know if it is not
true. I don't know if it is
true," Mr. Baker said, when
asked about the report. Mr.
Baker, who was Ronald
Reagan's White House chief
of staff at the time, said the
arms transfers "could have
happened" without his
knowledge.
While insisting that he
does not "have any recollec-
tion" of the transfers, Mr.
Baker suggested more than
once during t1e program
that the arms sales could
have been "a favor to Israel"
to help "Israel earn some
money. "
"We do cooperate with
Israel on matters such as
this," he explained.
The Times report, quoting
senior Reagan administra-
tion officials, as well as
Israeli officials, said the
arms flow began after the
Iranians released American
hostages seized at the U.S.
Embassy in Teheran in
1979.
The hostages were freed on
Jan. 20, 1981, the day
Reagan was sworn into of-
fice.
Iran, locked in war with
Iraq at the time, was des-
perately in need of weapons
and spare parts for the
U.S.-made military equip-
ment it acquired during the
reign of the Shah.
According to the Times
report, the United States
specifically authorized the
Israeli sales for between six
and 18 months.
"But the United States
watched them continue after
that, even as the Reagan
administration aggressively
promoted a public campaign,
known as Operation Staun-
ch, to stop worldwide
transfers of military goods to
Iran," said the Times story,
which was written by
Seymour Hersh.
Mr. Baker told "Face the
Nation" that "the secretary
of state is the person who is
empowered to approve the
export of technology."
At the time of the alleged

Israeli arms sales to Iran,
Alexander Haig was U.S.
secretary of state. In 1981,
Mr. Haig denied
"categorically" that U.S.
military equipment was
provided to Iran.
But in a January 1991
PBS television interview,
Mr. Haig acknowledged that
Israel might have shipped
some American arms to Iran
"through the good offices of
somebody in the White
House staff."
Officials at the Israeli Em-
bassy here had no immedi-
ate comment on the Times
report.
Israel served as the mid-
dleman in a secret arms-for-
hostages deal between the
Reagan White House and
Teheran, which burgeoned
into the Iran-Contra scan-
dal.
But no U.S. hostages were
being held by Iran or by
Islamic groups under its in-
fluence in 1981, when Israel
allegedly sold it American
arms with White House ap-
proval.
Mr. Hersh's report ap-
peared as Congress prepared
to investigate allegations
that Reagan campaign offi-
cials made a deal with Iran
to hold the U.S. Embassy
hostages captive until
Reagan's inauguration.
That allegation, which
remains unproven, has been
dubbed the "October sur-
prise," a reference to fears in
the Reagan camp that Presi-
dent Jimmy Carter might
engineer release of the
hostages just before the 1980
election, greatly improving
his chances for re-election.
The Times report said
interviews over the -last
three months found no link
between the Israeli arms
sales to Iran and the
"October surprise."

Vote Quest
Complicated

Washington (JTA) —
Patrick Buchanan's an-
nouncement that he will
challenge President Bush for
the 1992 Republican presi-
dential nomination will like-
ly make it harder for the
GOP to convince American
Jewish voters that the party
is not hostile to their inter-
ests.
Democrats had a similar
problem trying to portray
their party as pro-Jewish in
1984 and 1988, when the
Rev. Jesse Jackson ran for
the nomination. The Rev.
Jackson, who was accused of

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