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Report: US Furious at Israel Equipment Transfer to China

Top Israeli defense official allegedly resigns over transfer approval for military equipment move to China; US fears Chinese sale to Iran.
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 12/22/2013, 11:10 AM

Phalcon (illustrative)
Phalcon (illustrative)
Flash90

A top Israeli defense official was forced to step down last week, according to Maariv Sunday, after the United States expressed fury at Israel's decision to sell military equipment to China. 

Meir Shalit, the Department Head for Defense Exports at the Defense Ministry, announced his resignation last week. While Shalit did not announce the reasons behind his resignation, the report claims that he voluntary resigned after US official investigations last month over the transfer revealed that the move took place with his approval. Shalit apologized to the US in a visit late last week. 

The conflict, according to the daily, stems from different interpretations of the military weapon support contract between the US and Israel.

Israel explained to US officials that sensitive components of the equipment had been removed before the transfer and were being held in Europe.

However, the US insisted that the fact that equipment eventually made its way to China at all presents a security risk to the Middle East.

The US is concerned that the advanced technology could trickle from China to Iran, according to the report. Iran tried to buy equipment from China at least once to boost its nuclear weapons production, according to a report published earlier this year. 

The specific technology in question includes a miniature refrigeration system manufactured by Ricor, which is used for missiles and in electro-optic equipment.

The US and Israel have clashed over weapons and air force transfers before. Between 2000-2003, the US forced Israel to cancel sale of the Phalcon airborne radar system to China, at a steep price of over $300 million in compensation fees. 

China and Israel have strengthened their political and economic ties considerably over the past year.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Jerusalem last week to discuss the economic possibilities, several months after both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Economics Minister Naftali Bennett made successful trips to the Far Eastern country.