The Carter administration intends to go ahead with its proposal to sell seven complex and expensive flying radar systems to Iran, despite the Senate majority leader's request to delay the sale at least temporarily, the White House announced yesterday.
At about the time that a Senate Department official reportedly was telling a Senate subcommittee of the administration's stance, House Speaker Thomas P.(Tip) O'Neill Jr. (D-Mass.) said he, too, thinks the proposed sale should be postponed.
The sale "ought to be held up for a while," said O'Neill, adding that the plane contains "highly sophisticated equipment that might fall into the hands of the Soviet Union."
O'Neill position on the proposed sale is similar to that of Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), who said in a letter to Carter Saturday that the $1.2 billion sale to Iran of the Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) should be delayed for security reasons and because of a crowded Senate calendar that precludes the kind of deliberative consideration the sale merits.
Yesteray, though, the White House announced: "We do not intend to withdraw the notice (of the sale), and we hope to consult further with Congress, and to meet any concerns . . . AWACS is an important system that contributes to the stability of the area."
The result, according to several sources, was "a draw" in which arguments about the merits of the sale became too technical to significantly help the subcommittee judge the sale on policy grounds.
Resolutions have been introduced in both the Senate and the House to block the sale. If both are not passed by Aug. 5, the sale automatically goes through.