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Jordan Gave Iraq Broad Assistance, Papers Show : Gulf War: Amman offered Baghdad arms and Israeli, Western intelligence data, a GAO report says.

November 29, 1992|MURRAY WAAS and DOUGLAS FRANTZ | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

WASHINGTON — The government of Jordan provided military assistance and information from Israeli and Western intelligence agencies to Iraq after the invasion of Kuwait and during the Persian Gulf War, according to classified documents and interviews.

During this period, the Bush Administration allowed some government defense supplies to be shipped to Jordan despite public assurances to Congress that such aid had stopped, according to the records.

Even after King Hussein publicly declared his support for Iraq and the United States imposed a comprehensive ban on all U.S. military trade with Jordan, commercial military shipments were still being cleared for delivery through the war's final days, the records indicate.

The allegations are contained in the classified annex to a report by the General Accounting Office, an investigative arm of Congress, on Jordan's compliance with United Nations sanctions against Iraq.

The probe was conducted at the request of a House subcommittee and was issued Sept. 25. However, several of its key findings have remained classified "secret" at the insistence of the Administration. A copy of the secret portion was obtained recently by The Times.

The investigation suggests that the U.S. posture toward Jordan was more lenient than the Administration publicly indicated during the Persian Gulf crisis. It also offers the prospect that Iraq may have derived some benefit from the continuing U.S.-Jordan relationship during the period.

Contacted for comment, a State Department official disputed some of the GAO's findings.

Calvin Mitchell, an official in the Middle East division, said there is no proof Jordan sent arms to Iraq after the invasion of Kuwait. "We have said consistently that we have no confirmed information that military parts or equipment moved from Jordan to Iraq during the Gulf crisis," he said.

He declined to discuss the allegations about intelligence sharing and other forms of Jordanian-Iraqi cooperation.

Other Administration officials acknowledged that the Administration did not take the most stringent position on Jordan's dealings with Iraq. They said that some consideration was justified in recognition of Jordan's extremely delicate position in the region and in view of U.S. hope of restoring a good relationship in the future.

A representative of the Jordanian government said that the report's allegations are unfounded. "I can categorically deny that we have had any military cooperation or sale of military equipment to Iraq since Aug. 2," said Marwan Muasher, director of the Jordan Information Bureau here. "And we do not even get intelligence from Israel. We are in a state of war with Israel."

There have been previous reports that Jordan supplied some military equipment to Iraq during the war, including grenade launchers, grenades and mortars. But the new allegations, detailed in the classified annex to the GAO report, suggest much broader assistance.

"U.S. intelligence services verified four types of Jordanian and Iraqi military cooperation during the Gulf crisis," the document says. "These activities included joint training exercises with Iraq, two cases of providing access to U.S. technology, one case of purchasing spare parts and one case dealing with the sharing of coalition and Israeli intelligence information."

The report did not disclose details of the U.S. technology provided to Iraq or describe the nature of the intelligence shared. It said that the conclusions were supported by Defense Department documents, which traced shipments of military goods to Iraq from Jordan to the first days after the invasion of Kuwait.

The GAO said that the U.S. intelligence community differed over the importance of Jordan's actions, which--as described--would have violated the United Nations' embargo on Iraq. The Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) took a harsher view than the CIA.

"While DIA believed that Jordan was significantly violating U.N. sanctions, the CIA did not," said the report.

The differences between the two intelligence agencies is similar to the split in attitudes elsewhere within the American government over the seriousness of Jordan's violations of the embargo and how to respond to them. During the seven-month crisis, there were frequent reports of trucks hauling supplies across the Jordanian border into Iraq with little interference.

Congress advocated a firm stand against Jordan and strict retaliation for embargo violations. However, the prevailing view within the Administration was that the response had to be tempered by the reality confronting King Hussein and threats to his government.

The GAO report concluded that the Administration's implementation of the U.N. sanctions against Jordan was much less thorough than it seemed.

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