Austria's opposition parties have accused the government of Socialist Chancellor Bruno Kreisky of shipping 12 tons of arms to Syria in violation of Austria's neutrality.
Kreisky and Detense Minister Karl Leutgendorf, questioned about the growing scandal in Parliament today, said the Defense Ministry has been unable to trace the arms, which included 600 sniper rifles and 400,000 rounds of ammunition.
While Kresiky's Socialist Party has a firm three-seat majority in Parliament and is expected to survive pending votes of no-confidence, observers agreed that the political dispute would probably force the eventual resignation of Luetgendorf, 62, who has been defense minister since early 1971.
Austria, which proclaimed permanent neutrality as a condition of its independence after World War II. Bars arms sales to war zones and illegal delivery can be punished by up to five years in jail.
A private dealer long acquainted with Luetgendorf initially received government approval for shipment of the rifles and the ammunition, which came from Austrian army stocks.
Vienna airport customs intercepted the shipment last month but it has since left Austria by another route to a Yugoslav port and is believed to have reached Syria according to Austrian press reports.