Deposed Iranian President Abol Hassan Bani-Sadr said yesterday that Israel supplied Iran with military spare parts for its war with Iraq during the time when Iran was holding American hostages and the United States was pressing for a boycott against the country.
The Israelis sold 250 spare tires for American-made F4 Phantom fighters to two French businessmen in October 1980 for about $300,000, and the businessmen shipped the parts to Iran along with tank engines and parts obtained from private arms dealers, according to ABC News.
While the transfer of arms was indirect, Israeli officials in Paris were aware of where the parts were being shipped, ABC correspondent Pierre Salinger reported, adding that he had documents establishing the details of the deal.
Israeli officials contacted by ABC did not confirm or deny the report, but the network said a high Israeli official in Washington denied that arms transactions with Iran took place while the hostages were being held in Tehran.
"The strange thing was to buy arms from the Israelis, Bani-Sadr said in an interview with Salinger. "At the time I was president, it was a question of indirect purchase. I was opposed. I said if we have to buy arms from the Israelis, why not make peace with the Iraqis. It would be much better."
Salinger reported that there had been other deals in which Israeli arms had been shipped to Iran since the hostages were released last January, but said he had not been established that the Israeli government was aware of these transactions.