Ford News Conference
(September 16, 1975)
Q. I think you probably read the Post today and also Jack Anderson concerning secret accords with Israel for supplying the newest technology, including missiles that could be armed with nuclear warheads and so forth. Is this true?
THE PRESIDENT That material has all been submitted to the responsible committees in the Congress. The announcement concerning the F-16 and the Pershing missile--those are not firm commitments. They do involve negotiations between the United States and Israel. They are on a shopping list, and they will be discussed with representatives of the Israeli Government.
Q. But do you really think you should arm one power in the Middle East at a time when you are moving toward peace with the potential of offensive weapons in that--
THE PRESIDENT. Well, we have for a long, long time supplied Israel with very substantial amounts of military hardware. This was a policy established a good many years ago, and we have always felt that the survival of Israel in the Middle East was very important. And the military hardware that we have in the past and will in the future provide for that survival--as I indicated at the outset, these items were on a list open for discussion between the United States and the Israeli Government.
Q. Mr. President, is the United States moving towards a security treaty with Israel? This document which we read in the Post suggests quite a close, more formalized defense relationship with Israel.
THE PRESIDENT. I wouldn't say a security treaty. I would simply reiterate what I have said before, that historically the United States has supplied Israel with very substantial military weaponry, and it is our plan to do so in the future. But there is no firm commitment on any of the weapons that I think got the headlines this morning. They are merely open for discussion.
Q. Sir, part of this agreement with Israel involves our providing them with oil either through foreign credits or giving oil to them from our own supply. We don't have enough for ourselves and can't afford to pay for what we are getting. How can we supply Israel over several years?
THE PRESIDENT. We believe there are sources available to Israel to keep Israel secure after they have given up the oil fields in the Middle East. We are not concerned that these supplies will be turned off, and therefore, it will have no adverse impact, as we see it, on our own supplies.
Q. But we will pay for this oil, will we not? We will pay for this through foreign credits?
THE PRESIDENT. This is a part of the overall military economic agreement with Israel, and it is a step, I believe, in maintaining the peace. I think it is fair to point out that several months ago 76 Senators sent me a letter actually urging that I recommend to the Congress more money for Israel and no guarantee of peace, whereas at the present time we have made this agreement--or Israel and Egypt have made this agreement--and the prospective cost to the United States is less than what the 76 Senators recommended that we propose to the Congress for Israel.
So, we not only have peace and a step toward a broader peace but it is also at a lesser cost than what the 76 Senators promoted.
Q. Mr. President, in this agreement published in the Post today, it refers to the United States viewing with particular gravity threats made against Israel, made by a world power, and goes on to say that the United States would promptly consult with Israel on support or assistance that it could lend. Now, does this go forward toward a security treaty, or does it not? And if so, doesn't it have to be taken to the Congress first to be approved?
THE PRESIDENT. That language does not constitute a treaty. The words speak for themselves.
DISCIPLINING OF SUBMARINE COMMANDER
[16.] Q. Mr. President, as an old Navy man.--
THE PRESIDENT. Old is right. [Laughter]
Q. do you think the discipline given the commander of the submarine on which the go-go dancer performed was perhaps not quite in the tradition of the Navy that you knew? [Laughter]
THE PRESIDENT. I think I ought to refer that to the Navy where the matter is being, I am sure, thoroughly and properly handled under the procedures in the Navy code of conduct, or whatever they--
THE MIDDLE EAST
Q. Mr. President, as you know, a good many Congressional offices are receiving mail which runs contrary to your proposal for a Middle East peace settlement, particularly objecting to the use of American civilian technicians in the Sinai. I was wondering, sir, if, as you say, that is worth the risk? How long are those Americans going to be there, and is that not an open-ended commitment?
THE PRESIDENT. They will be there during the term of the agreement unless I, or another President, withdraw them because of any danger to their lives. It is a case of not more than 200 American civilians performing a highly technical warning station responsibility in a U.N. buffer zone. I think it is a good contribution by the United States to the establishment and permanency of peace in the Middle East.
Q. I'd like to follow up, sir, if I could, please. May I follow up, please? I'd like to ask what you would do if in the course of their term in the Sinai, the PLO moved in and kidnaped some of them, captured them, or if perhaps they were killed? Would you then use American intervention; the question being, then, is: Can you flatly rule out there would be no American intervention to protect those technicians?
THE PRESIDENT. I am not going to speculate on something that I do not anticipate will happen. I think I or any other President would use utmost caution in the protection of the lives of any Americans.
Q. Mr. President, to follow that up: If you are committed to the use of Americans on the Egyptian front, would you also, later perhaps, be committed to the principle of using Americans on the Jordanian or the Syrian front?
THE PRESIDENT. I don't think I should speculate about any negotiations or agreement that have not yet begun. It is a very valuable contribution to peace in the present agreement, but I would not want to make any commitment concerning any other.
Source: Public Papers of the President