President Clinton said yesterday the United States opposes Israel's plan to sell advanced military radar planes to China but does not have all the facts about the deal.
"We have raised it with them because whenever any of our friends sells sophisticated equipment that might be American in origin, that is inconsistent with the terms under which the transfer was made, then we raise that," Mr. Clinton told reporters in the Oval Office.
Israel is planning to sell China several converted Russian transport planes outfitted with a sophisticated radar system that the Pentagon believes will enhance China's military reach and threaten the military balance with Taiwan.
Mark Regev, a spokesman for the Israeli Embassy, said the sale is expected to go ahead despite U.S. objections.
He said said no one in the Clinton administration, either the State Department or Pentagon, "is saying that U.S. technology is involved in this project."
"Israel strictly abides by its legal and contractual obligations to the United States in this matter," Mr. Regev said. "No U.S. military technology is involved."
Mr. Clinton said the facts about the sale "are in dispute."
"Before I can tell you what I'm going to do about it, we have to be absolutely sure what the facts are," he said in response to a dispatch in yesterday's editions of the New York Times.
Mr. Clinton said the newspaper report was accurate about the United States protesting the sale to Israel, but "inaccurate to say that we know as an actual fact that such a transfer has occurred."
Asked about concerns about transferring advanced military technology, the Israeli Embassy spokesman said Israel has an elaborate system of checks and controls on defense exports by Israeli companies. …