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Israel Rejects Reports of Role as 'Speculation'

November 08, 1986|United Press International

JERUSALEM — Israel said Friday that reports that it played a middleman's role in a secret weapons-for-hostages deal between the United States and Iran are "just journalistic speculation."

The government refused any further comment on news reports that tons of U.S.-made military hardware have been shipped to Iran from Eilat, an Israeli port.

"This is just journalistic speculation and we will not refer to it further," a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

The Los Angeles Times, quoting government sources, reported Thursday that the Reagan Administration has used an Israeli-operated supply line to ship missiles and weapons parts to Iran since last year in an operation that led to the release of three American hostages in Lebanon.

The Danish Sailors Union said in Copenhagen on Thursday that Israeli weapons dealers had shipped at least 3,600 tons of U.S.-made weapons to Iran for use in its war with Iraq.

According to Henrik Berlau, the union's deputy chairman, supplies apparently were shipped with the Reagan Administration's approval from the United States to Israel. From there, he said, they were taken to Iran aboard a Danish cargo ship.

Berlau suggested that, as a result, pro-Iranian Shia Muslim kidnapers in Lebanon freed three American hostages--Benjamin Weir, Lawrence M. Jenco and David P. Jacobsen--over the past 14 months.

A Danish sailor said Thursday in Copenhagen that he was aboard a freighter that carried 26 containers of ammunition from Eilat to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas in late October--shortly before Jacobsen's release.

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