Pentagon officials said yesterday that Israel attached so many demands to sharing technical information it gained during the Lebanese war that the State Department, White House National Security Council and Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger all agreed to scotch the deal.
Weinberger signed a letter about 10 days ago informing Israel of the decision, defense officials said. They stressed that it was a collective judgment by administration officials.
Defense officials said Israel agreed to let the United States examine captured Soviet equipment and to brief Americans on electronic countermeasures that proved effective against Soviet missiles.
In return, they said, Israel demanded co-production and export rights on any U.S. gear developed in response to the Lebanon experience. They said Israel also demanded that its technicians receive detailed information on such first-line U.S. weaponry as the M1 tank and antitank missiles, together with the right to export technology incorporated into them.
The Israeli demands, if met, would complicate relations with NATO partners and violate laws restricting the export of U.S. weapons technology to third parties, defense officials said. The administration decided the potential gains from the Israeli information were far outweighed by the potential losses, one official said.
In a footnote to the dispute,, one defense official said Israeli forces placed mines around a disabled Soviet T72 tank to keep the Syrians from towing it away. The Syrians put a wider ring of mines around the tank, dug out the Israeli mines and hauled it off, the official said.
But the Israelis did capture Soviet helicopters and armored personnel carriers which are of interest to U.S. weapons experts, defense officials said.