Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

U.S., Israel at Odds over Israeli Defense Sales and Technology Transfer to India, China

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

U.S., Israel at Odds over Israeli Defense Sales and Technology Transfer to India, China

Article excerpt

U.S., Israel at Odds Over Israeli Defense Sales and Technology Transfer to India, China

A September visit to China by Israel's defense minister and an October biannual meeting between U.S. and Israeli officials highlighted increasing U.S. concern about Israeli arms sales and Israel's illegal retransfer of American military technology to India and China.

In September, Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai met in China with President Jiang Zemin to discuss increasing Israel's role in China's massive military modernization program. "Mordechai came to Shanghai, Xi'an, and Beijing with the heads of the country's major defense industries to open doors, make contacts and win the green light from [China's] leadership to make deals," Israel's Jerusalem Post reported Sept. 13. Accompanying Mordechai on his trip, according to the Post, were representatives from virtually every Israeli defense company, including state-owned Israel Aircraft Industries, Rafael, TAAS-Israel Industries, El-Op, Tadiran, Rada, Elissra and Elbit.

Mordechai's trip to China did not go unnoticed in Washington. In the lead article of the November issue of "Pointer," a monthly supplement to Jane's Intelligence Review, under the title "Israel's Dirty Deals," writer Al Venter points out that "The remarkable proliferation of sophisticated hi-tech weapons systems in Israel is raising questions in Washington. Making the stuff is fine, say the Americans. The problem is who Israel ends up selling [it] to."

The Jerusalem Post also recognized American concerns. "The Americans, meanwhile, are apprehensive about the cozy ties being forged on this side of the world, which, they fear, may involve the illegal transfer of U.S. technologies in Israel's hands," the Post reported. It's interesting to note that nowhere in the article did the Post deny the legitimacy of those concerns.

Americans should be worded. Despite a recent lull in Israeli defense exports to China, Israeli companies have provided China with substantial amounts of military hardware and technology in the past, and there also have been widespread public allegations from several sources, including the U.S. government, that Israel has illegally sold substantial quantities of sensitive American military technology repeatedly to China in direct violation of U.S. export laws.

A RESURRECTED LAVI

Among the items and technology Israel allegedly has sold to China are the Python-3 air-to-air missile, which is thought to contain substantial amounts of American technology from the AIM-9L "Sidewinder" missile, cruise missile technology, accuracy modifications for ballistic missiles, and massive amounts of hardware, technology and guidance for China's F-10 fighter, which is strikingly similar to Israel's failed Lavi light fighter. The Lavi project, funded almost exclusively by U.S. taxpayers, received more than $1.5 billion from the United States before it was cancelled in 1987. (For more information about Israel's illegal retransfer of American military technology to China, see "Congress Calls for Sanctions If Israeli Technology Transfer to China Is Proven," Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, November/December 1996, p. 9.)

Israel also has won a $250 million contract, with Russia, to provide China with an advanced airborne early warning (AEW) system similar in function to the U. …

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