The Soviet Union has supplied Kuwait, a pro-Western Arab state, with sophisticated surface-to-surface missiles, the Kuwaiti Defense Ministry said today.
The missiles, which were displayed in a government television special program on military exercises, are the first sophisticated Soviet weaponry purchased by the Kuwaiti armed forces. Defense Minister Sheik Salem Sabah said Kuwait was preparing to defend its territory against any "Foreign aggression" and to take part in "liberating occupied Arab lands," a clear reference to Israel.
The purchase from the Soviets appears to indicate rising Kuwaiti apprehension about the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and unrest in the Middle East. A militarily weak nation with a population of 1.2 million, Kuwait traditionally seeks to accommodate, rather than confront, any perceived threat.
Kuwait's main arms suppliers have been Western countries, but the chief of staff of the armed forces, Gen. Mubarak Abdullah Sabah, said last year that Kuwait intended to diversify its sources of weapons.
The defense minister said the Luna missiles "herald the shift by Kuwaiti artillery [units] from traditional weapons to the missile age." The ministry said the missiles, with a range of 42 miles and capable of carrying 920-pound warheads, were delivered recently. It did not say how many Kuwait had bought.
In other Middle East developments, Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Saud Faisal yesterday reiterated his country's rejection of the establishment of foreign military bases or presence of foreign troops on its territory.
In a statement issued by the official Saudi press agency today, Prince Saud said Saudi Arabia's policy in this respect was "proclaimed and clear" and that it would not enter into any agreement for military facilities for the United States or anyone else.
The minister described reports circulating on the subject as completely unfounded and similar to those seeking to spread other lies regarding the kingdom and its "firm policy."
In Abu Dhabi, visiting Venezuelan President Luis Herrera Campins today called on the 13-nation Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to unify its oil prices.
"My country seeks a unified price within OPEC," Herrera said. "This would undoubtedly ease differences in oil prices in the world market.
"If Venezuela and the United Arab Emirates exert joint efforts, it would be possible to achieve a unified price," he said in an interview with UAE Television. Both Venezuela and the Emirates increased the price of their oil in recent weeks.
The Venezeulan president, who was in Abu Dhabi for a one-day visit, is touring Arab OPEC states. He said his tour, which includes Algeria, Libya, and Kuwait, was part of an effort to bolster unity and cooperation in OPEC, especially in the areas of price and production, and to explore possible cooperation between OPEC and developing countries without oil resources.
"We must not allow the developing countries to fall for the industrialized countries' propaganda that the organization was responsible for world inflation," Herrera said.
The secretary general of OPEC, Rene Oritz of Ecuador, arrived in Baghdad today to discuss arrangements for a summit conference of OPEC countries, the Iraq news agency reported.
The OPEC summit will be the second since the establishment of the organization in 1960. Iraq has called for it to be convened in mid-October to mark OPEC's 20th anniversary.