Ashley Cheek


Elaine Sciolino, “U.S. Officials Suspect Israelis Sent Ethiopia Cluster Bombs,” The New York Times, January 21, 1990.


Summary / Main Point:


United States officials stated that they suspect Israel of supplying the Marxist-backed Ethiopian government with so-called cluster bombs for use against rebel villages in the north of the country.


The United States has repeatedly warned Israel of the consequences of supplying such advanced weaponry to third-world sources, however Israel had no comment on the issue. Israel and Ethiopia have reinstated diplomatic communications after a 16-year hiatus. Israel is hopeful that the Ethiopian government will allow some 16,000 Ethiopian Jews to immigrate to Israel.


The U.S. sent Israel the bombs in the past as part of a defensive strategy trade, however it halted the cluster bomb shipments in 1982 after Israel used them against civilian targets after invading Lebanon. The U.S. has not since shipped any more. Despite the lack of American shipments, the Israelis have developed a cluster-type of weapon on their own, and American officials are skeptical of Israeli claims that they have not been sent to 3rd parties.


Jimmy Carter, the U.S. President originally allowing cluster bomb shipments to Israel in the beginning, has stated in speeches that he has learned the government in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia’s capital) has bragged about bringing a swift conclusion to the rebellion with the new bombs. He didn’t say specifically which nation had given the Ethiopians the new weapons.


The government of Israel has attempted in recent years to open diplomatic and trade ties with many African nations, and has agreed on a “limited basis” to provide Ethiopia some military equipment, however they assured the U.S. that no advanced equipment would be sold.