President Ford's decision to let Israel have, for the first time, powerful concussion bombs and secret heat-sensitive, night-vision equipment will not be subject to congressional review, a government official said this week.
The CUB-72 bombs, which can kill people in bunkers by concussion or by sucking the air from their lungs, and the FLIR (forward-looking infrared) night-vision system were promised to Israel by Ford Oct. 5.
Critics charged that Ford agreed to take these items off the list of military equipment not allowed Israel in an effort to aid his presidential campaign. Jimmy Carter charged during the candidates' foreign policy debate Oct. 6 that Ford was not giving enough support to Israel.
By law, Congress can disapprove any arms sale exceeding $25 million and any sale of what is considered major military equipment worth more than $7 million.
The government official said that the CBU-27s and the FLIR are being treated as separate weapons transfers and that neither will exceed $7 million.It is normal procedure for different types of weapons to be considered as separat sale, several sources said.
The number of CUBs and the quantity of the FLIR equipment that will be made available could not be learned. Israel has been informed of the amounts decided on by the administration, a government source said.
A congressional source expressed surprise that the amounts will be so low that the two new items Israel is to get will not be subject to congressional review.
During the presidential campaign, Carter attacked the administration for selling large quantities of sophisticated arms abroad. He raised the possibility that U.S. arms might be used against U.S. allies if the sales went unchecked.
Israel is one of the largest consumers of U.S. weapons and is to receive $1 billion in arms credits this fiscal year. Carter attacked the administration for not giving adequate support to Israel.