The Carter administration has failed to reduce significantly U.S. weapons sales abroad despite the President's announced objective of curtailing international arms traffic.
This was the principal finding in a government study released yesterday by Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey, chairman of a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee that monitors arms sales.
"Despite the stated and implied intentions of the new policy, arms sales continue to play a very substantial role in support of U.S. foreign policy and security objectives," said the study based on an examination of 45 weapons transactions involving $4.1 billion in sales. The study was conducted by the Library of Congress Congressional Research Service.
"Rather than being used as 'an exceptional foreign policy implement,' U.S. arms transfers continue to occur on a rather routine basis," the study said.
President Carter announced his arms sales policy on May 19. In it he stated that transfers of conventional weapons would be regarded as "an exceptional foreign policy implement, to be used only in instances where it can be clearly demonstrated that the transfer contributes to our national interest."
Carter went on to promise a reduction in this year's level of sales below the level of fiscal 1977, a ban on the introduction of new military technologies to areas where they do not currently exist, and a new atmosphere with the burden of persuasion on those who favor sales rather than those who oppose them.
Only in the last area, the study concludes, has Carter's five-month-old policy enjoyed any success.
"To be sure, there is a heightened sensitivity to arms controls, a more [WORD ILLEGIBLE] and centralized contol of the executive branch's management of arms requests," the study said.
Nevertheless, it suggested that the new atmosphere has not permeated to the bureaucracies in the State and Defense departments responsible for reviewing arms sales requests: "A mainstream of arms sales approval continues to flow from the review process, with restraint applied mostly at the margins."
Since May 19, the report notes, the administration has forwarded to Congress 45 arms sales notifications, involving 18 potential buyer nations and more than $4.1 billion in military goods and services.
The Carter administration has also announced, since its arms restraint policy came into being, a willingness to negotiate arms sales with five nations not now in the U.S. sphere - Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Egypt, Chad, and Sudan - and a $1.8 billion military aid program for South Korea, to compensate for the planned withdrawal of U.S. ground forces.
On the other side of the ledger, the report notes, the administration has denied a request by Pakistan to buy 110 A-7 attack planes, a request by Iran to purchase 250F-18Ls fighters not manufactured for U.S. use, and reaffirmed is refusal to allow Israel to sell Kfir fighter planes, with U.S. built engines, to Ecuador.
The report points to Africa, East Est as the areas where increases in the levels of arms sales are likely to be the most pronounced, and concludes that legitimate foreign policy goals will spur the increases.
In Africa, the trend toward higher sales is pushed by an administration decision to use them "as a major weapon to challenges Soviet intrusion and influence." the report said.
In East and Southeast Asia, "even with the use of arms sales as an exceptional instrument of policy, the trend in these sales will not be reversed in the near future . . . but in fact may rise to compensate for reduced American troop presence in the area."