Selling US Weapons to China Israel Is Reexporting Restricted US Military Technology to Beijing

Article excerpt

The controversy over the Clinton administration's transfer of sensitive US technology to China has skirted a major issue: illegal Israeli retransfers of US technology to Beijing. The US government first went public about these illicit Israeli practices in 1992 when the State Department's inspector general reported the intelligence community had "overwhelming" evidence of a "systematic and growing pattern" of unauthorized Israeli re-exports of US-origin defense technology.

CIA Director James Woolsey stated flatly in 1993 that "the Chinese seek from Israel advanced military technologies that US and Western firms are unwilling to provide." Mr. Woolsey also said that Israel has been China's primary source of advanced defense technology since 1989.

The intelligence community continues to express acute concern about Israeli wrongdoing. For instance, the Office of Naval Intelligence reported in 1997 and 1996 that "United States technology has been acquired {by China} through Israel in the form of the Lavi fighter and possibly surface-to-air missile technology." A State Department official said last month: "This issue certainly has not gone away."

Military sales to China are lucrative for Israeli defense firms, but they are clearly violate the Arms Export Control Act (AECA). The AECA stipulates that sensitive US technology may not be re-exported to a third party without US consent. Nor may such re-exports be authorized when the US itself would not export the technology. Israel denies culpability, although some Israelis privately concede "mishandling" US technology. Two separate commissions composed exclusively of staunch US supporters of Israel chastised Israel for its misdeeds in 1993 and again in 1997.

Israel has employed US technology to assist China in developing its next-generation fighter aircraft - the J-10, airborne radar systems, tank programs, and a variety of missiles. Over vigorous Pentagon objections, Israel has apparently transferred to China the most lethal air-to-air missile in the world: the Python-4. This system employs an advanced helmet-mounted sight, developed together by American and Israeli firms. Also very disturbing is Israel's transfer to China of its STAR-1 cruise missile technology. The STAR-1 incorporates US stealth technology and is what one US official characterizes as "a growth version" of Israel's Delilah-2 missile, which contains US parts and technology. …