US to move military equipment worth $400 mn to Israel
Jerusalem: Boosting Israel`s defence capability, the US is to move an additional USD 400 million worth of military equipment, mainly smart bombs and precision attack weapons, for emergency storage in the Jewish state over the next two years, a media report here said.
The US Congress approved the hike last month, which will bring the value of American military equipment stockpiled in Israel to USD 1.2 billion by 2012, daily Ha`aretz reported.
The United States stores equipment in Israel by virtue of a special clause in its foreign aid law governing war reserves stockpiles for allies.
The equipment can be used by American forces throughout the world, and also, in an emergency, by the military in the country where the equipment is stored, the clause says.
The clause was originally intended to allow South Korea use of American equipment in case of a surprise attack by North Korea.
The type of equipment stockpiled in Israel is decided through dialogue between the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) and the US Army`s European Command.
The issue is said to have been raised in discussions last week during the US visit by IDF`s logistics and technology chief, Maj Gen Dan Biton, at the Pentagon in Washington, the report said.
It is believed that a great deal of the equipment will include precision weapons launched from the air.
IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said this week that in Israel`s future wars, much more precise weaponry will be needed to strike urban targets from the air, without injuring civilians. Israel used such American weaponry during the Second Lebanon War in 2006 against Hezbollah.
The agreement between the two armed forces also includes conditions under which the IDF may use the equipment.
The US had set a ceiling at USD 100 million, the first time it started stockpiling weapons in Israel in 1990, but it has seen a constant increase over the years, rising to USD 300 million during the first Gulf War and later 400 million.
It was doubled in 2007 after the Second Lebanon War, and will now reach USD 1.2 billion by 2012.
It is assumed in Israel that the US administration asked Congress to increase the value of the emergency equipment to signal its continued commitment to the Jewish state`s security and also to persuade Israel not to mount a surprise attack on Iran`s nuclear facilities, the daily said.
Israel is also expected to be allowed more involvement in selecting the types of equipment and weapons to be stored in the country, and also greater freedom to use it in an emergency.
The agreement on additional stockpiling is part of a very significant upgrading in security relations between Israel and the United States, which also involved an increased number of joint exercises between the two countries during which joint command over complex operations were also drilled.