The State Department, in a report made public yesterday, said the United States turned down or headed off more than $1 billion in requests for arms sales last year from 67 countries.
The report was released by the House International Relations Committee on the first anniversary of President Carter's announcement of his overseas arms sales policies.
Previous administrations turned down some requests to sell arms to foreign countries, and officials said that some of the rejections would have been made under pre-Carter policies.
Due to the diplomatic sensitivities involved, the State Department declined to make public details of the arms requests that were "turned down or turned off" in 1977. However, Under Secretary of State Lucy W. Benson said the list included:
Helicopter, sunships, fighter-bombers, howitzers and missile-launching equipment for African countries.
Helicopters, missile systems, tanks and an intelligence system for Asian countries.
Guided missile patrol boats, electronic warfare systems, tank engines and antiaircraft missiles for Middle Eastern countries.
Armored personnel carriers, helicopters, training aircraft, air-to-air missiles for Latin American countries.
Tanks and missiles, fuses for napalm bombs and coproduction agreements covering aircraft, ships, missiles and advanced radars for NATO countries.
According to Benson, arms requests were rejected from 19 countries that do not have ongoing military supply relationships with the United States as well as 48 countries that have such relationships. During the year a new military supply relationship was established with Sudan.
Benson, who heads the Arms Export Control Board established under the Carter policy, said much of the first year's effort went to establishing procedures and conducting reviews that will have greater effect in future years. She reported that the total of U.S. military sales abroad is expected to rise from $11.5 billion in fiscal year 1977 to about $13.2 billion this year, but said that the total would have been much higher without the turndowns.
With sales to NATO countries, Australia, New Zealand and Japan as well as overseas military construction and training exempted from the figures and an adjustment made for inflation, the Carter administration calculates that military sales subject to its special presidential ceiling will decline from $9.3 billion in 1977 to $8.6 billion this year.
The institute for Policy Studies, a Washington-based think tank, charged in a report on the first year of the Carter arms export policy that the much-discussed ceiling is "a phony one" because of its exclusions.
Benson said rejection of requests for military sales is "extremely sensitive" diplomatically. "Every friend of the United States simply can't understand why we say no to a military sale. They tell us, 'If you're our friend, why don't you sell what we need for our defense?'"
Carter, who as a candidate attacked sharply mounting military sales and the resulting international arms race, has taken a personal interest in weapons transfers since becoming president. According to informed officials, he insisted during most of his first year on giving personal consideration to each proposed arms sale large enough to be reported to Congress under current laws. He did not reject any which were submitted to him but held up several for a time, officials said.
Carter recently decided not to review personally proposed sales that are routine followups to earlier transactions. But all sales to be submitted to Congress are given personal attention by Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance, Secretary of Defense Harold Brown and presidential national security affairs adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, officials said.
The big and controversial sales of jet warplanes to Israel and Saudi Arabia and airborne radar planes to Iran represented Carter's reaffirmation of commitments first made in earlier years. From now on, large-scale sales submitted to Congress are likely to flow from commitments originating during the Carter administration, according to State Department officials.
The U.S. arms industry, now required to obtain official permission at an earlier stage of discussion with foreign countries over sensitive items, appears to be weathering the Carter arms policy with little difficulty. The industry is working on a backlog of about $30 billion in overseas sales approved and signed but not delivered before Carter took office, in addition to the transfers approved in the past 16 months.