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US says it followed rules routing bombs to Israel through UK

[JURIST] US officials Thursday denied that the US had violated British air transport safety regulations in routing "smart bombs" to Israel [JURIST news archive] through the UK, despite concerns expressed by UK Foreign Minister Margaret Beckett [official profile] earlier this week that procedures for handling the dangerous cargo were not followed. Beckett said Wednesday that a formal complaint would be made to the US if it was confirmed that any rules were broken, but British officials said they are still investigating the situation and US Department of Defense [official website] spokesman Joe Carpenter said all protocols were properly followed by the US and that the flights "comply with existing bilateral agreements."

Two cargo planes carrying GBU 28 laser-guided bombs [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] touched down at Scotland's Prestwick International Airport [website] outside Glasgow in order to refuel and allow the crew to rest before continuing on to Israel. The accusations by Beckett are expected to further criticism of British Prime Minister Tony Blair [official website] as the only other major world leader who has joined the US in refusing to demand an immediate ceasefire by Israel in the conflict in Lebanon [JURIST news archive]. Reuters has more.

8:21 PM ET - British media reported late Thursday that Blair had approved the transit flights, and that apparently two more have been confirmed for the next two weeks. From London, the Daily Mail has more.

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