U.S. Denies Secret Israel Anti-Terror Pact
The Reagan Administration denied Monday that it had had a secret counterterrorism pact with Israel during the Iran-Contra scandal in 1985 and 1986.
State Department spokesman Charles Redman said a study of agency documents showed that “no such agreement exists or existed.” White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said: “The bottom line is that we don’t believe there is one . . . It’s so nebulous.”
Israeli official Amiram Nir “did propose such a more formal agreement, but it was immediately rejected by the U.S. government,” said Redman, who did not say when that proposal was made.
The Washington Post reported Sunday that Nir, the former Israeli government counterterrorism adviser killed in an airplane crash last week in Mexico, had used such an accord to supervise covert activities with Oliver L. North, the White House aide fired and indicted in the Iran-Contra affair. In addition, Nir indicated to the Post that President Reagan apparently kept such a pact secret from Congress.
Fitzwater said the United States shares information on terrorism with Israel, as it does with a number of other countries, but he said no agreement was ever signed.
“There is no document or umbrella agreement that authorizes those kinds of things,” Fitzwater said.
“The President has never executed any umbrella agreement . . . such as the one described in the Washington Post article on Sunday. We are not aware of the existence of any document fitting that description,” he said. “We can’t comment, however, with regard to any conversations that may have taken place between Mr. Nir and others no longer in government or Mr. Nir and Bob Woodward (of the Post) in this case.”
North has been charged with a variety of offenses related to the clandestine sales of U.S. arms to Iran in 1985-86 and the subsequent diversion of proceeds to the rebels in Nicaragua. He is scheduled to go on trial in late January.
The Post said American and Israeli sources confirmed the existence of the Israeli-American agreement, referred to as “terms of reference” or “accords” by some knowledgeable sources.
Sources at the House and Senate Intelligence committees told the Associated Press on Monday that no such agreement had been reported to Congress.
The Post said Nir’s account of the agreement would give weight to North’s repeated assertion that all his actions in the foreign policy fiasco were approved by superiors.
Nir told the Post that the retired Marine lieutenant colonel could be expected to maintain at a trial that the operations financed by the Iranian deals were legal and authorized by the U.S.-Israel counter-terrorism contract.