[Ha'aretz, 29 Nov]:
Israel agrees to sell gas masks to Kuwait for civilian distribution
By Amnon Barzilai
Israel is prepared to sell 2 million gas mask to Kuwait, which will be
distributed to its citizens in case of an Iraqi attack on the country,
the Defense Ministry has decided after consolations with Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon and the Foreign Ministry.
If the $ 82 million deal comes through, the Shalon company from Kiryat
Gat will supply the gas masks.
The contacts for the gas mask deal were carried out by mediators and
Kuwaiti businessman who approached the Shalon company - the sole
manufacturer of Symplex gas masks provided to all Israeli residents.
The security exports department of the Defense Ministry allowed Shalon
to sell gas masks to Kuwait after a series of talks.
Kuwait's interest in gas masks is due to its fear of being attacked
with chemical weapons by Iraq in case of a U.S. attack on Baghdad.
Defense Ministry officials said that gas masks are considered as
weapons only if they are used by military forces, bus because Kuwait
will distribute the masks to civilians, the masks will be considered
to be civilian equipment.
Ha'aretz discovered that it is doubtful whether Shalon will be able to
supply the masks to Kuwait on time. The Home Front command recently
received a special budget to buy 300,000 gas masks to prevent a
shortage of masks in the command's emergency stores, and Shalon had to
hire additional manpower to manufacture this amount.
Sources in the company said the deal was not secured, and that it is
possible that Shalon will manufacture only some of the masks and
Kuwait will have to find other sources of supply.