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US outraged by Israel's sale of military equipment to China

February 3, 2014 at 10:24 am

The sale of Israeli military equipment to China has sparked outrage in the United States, leading to the resignation of an Israeli Defence Ministry official.

The Israeli newspaper Maariv reported on Sunday that Meir Shalit, the department head for defence exports at the ministry, resigned last week in the wake of US fury at Israel’s sale of military equipment to China in violation of previous agreements between the two states.

Although Israel has made it clear that the equipment was sold to a European company before being transferred to China, the US insisted that the fact that the equipment made its way to China at all constitutes a violation of Israeli commitments towards the US.

The newspaper added that the US is concerned about the possible transfer of such equipment and advanced technology from China to Iran.

American officials had inquired about how a miniature cooling system – manufactured by Ricor Cryogenic & Vacuum Systems and used for several purposes including missiles – arrived in China.

Against this backdrop, Shalit submitted his resignation and made a visit to the US, where he officially apologised for the deal in question.

The US and Israel have clashed over Israel’s sale of military equipment to China several times before, most notably when Israel sold a Phalcon airborne radar system around 15 years ago. Amid intense US pressure, Israel was forced to cancel the transaction.

The former Director General of the Israel Defence Ministry Amos Yaron also stepped down after the US discovered that Israel sold China equipment used for manufacturing small unmanned aircrafts, commonly known as drones.

The US views Israel’s efforts to improve and develop its political and economic relations with China, whose economy continues to grow at a fast pace, as quite sensitive and potentially threatening to US national interests.