Joint Chiefs Weigh Impact of U.S. Arms Sales on Iraq

Associated Press

Adm. William J. Crowe, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Monday that the military chiefs have begun an internal study to determine whether U.S. arms shipped to Iran are playing any significant role in the Iran-Iraq war.

Crowe also said the controversy over the Iranian arms sales has resulted in increased consultation between the White House and the Joint Chiefs.

There was no such consultation before President Reagan's decision to sell arms to Iran last year, Crowe said, and the Joint Chiefs knew nothing of money being diverted from the arms profits to the contras in Nicaragua before the White House disclosed it.

Rare Meeting

President Reagan has said that the arms sales did not alter the military balance between Iran and Iraq.

Crowe, in a rare meeting with reporters in his Pentagon office, said the Joint Chiefs had yet to see any indication that U.S.-made TOW anti-tank missiles and spare parts for Hawk anti-aircraft missiles were playing a significant role in fighting between Iran and Iraq.

Crowe said the chiefs consider it necessary to determine what effect the U.S.-made weapons have had on the fighting.

"We're looking at that," he said. "It's a little early to say because this kind of intelligence is difficult to get real-time. You sort of have to look at it over a period of time. . . .

'Might Be Important'

"We don't have any indications that U.S. arms transfers have been decisive anywhere. My instincts tell me that in an individual engagement, the fact that you have TOWs or don't have might be important. But at least at this juncture, I don't have any reason to say that any of those transfers have had a decisive impact."

Crowe, while making it clear he would have preferred to have been consulted before the arms transactions were approved, declined to say what kind of advice he would have offered if the President had done so.

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