- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 25, 2000

The Pentagon is excluding the Defense Intelligence Agency from reviewing weapons sales to Israel, raising fears that American technology will be diverted to unintended third countries.
A memo circulating within the Pentagon's Defense Threat Reduction Agency says its analysts no longer must contact the DIA for input before approving transfers to Israel of sensitive technologies such as aircraft and missile parts.
"There has been a new focus on Israel upstairs," says the memo, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times. "That is what's prompted the guidance."
"Cases for Israeli companies or the Israeli [Defense Ministry] should be staffed to [technology security operation] only," says the memo. "Israeli cases will not be routinely staffed to DIA."
The memo, say Pentagon officials opposed to the change, means the Defense Department will be hamstrung in stopping transfers since it is the DIA that determines whether an Israeli company would divert the material.
These officials, who asked not to be named, expressed puzzlement over the change in light of the fact that Israel is suspected of transferring U.S. weapons technology to China. They wonder if the loosening of oversight is tied to the Clinton administration's attempts to convince Israel to sign a peace deal with the Palestinians.
The June 27 memo says, "As a result of a meeting with Dave Tarbell, the previous guidance of staffing all Israel cases to [technology security operation] and DIA is rescinded."
The technology operation is a small shop inside the threat agency's Technology Security Directorate, which is headed by Mr. Tarbell.
The internal agency memo lists four circumstances in which only the technology review office and not DIA needs to review a proposed U.S.-to-Israel transfer. They are a new start program; sensitive technologies such as aircraft and missiles; large quantities of previously exported material; and companies "that have a history of unsavory dealings."
The memo does not explain why the DIA is being excluded.
A spokeswoman at the agency said yesterday Mr. Tarbell was traveling and unavailable to comment.
"This is something we would prefer Mr. Tarbell have a response to and he isn't available right now," she said.
Said a Pentagon employee who opposes the policy change: "Israel is a technology risk for reverse engineering. It's a great technology risk, one of the greatest in the world… . It's tantamount to a blank check approval for anything they want, which is a tremendous change in policy."
Israel, like other buyers of U.S. components, agrees in writing not to transfer the goods, which may include radars, computer parts and sensors.
The Pentagon official said that in the past the agency has opposed supercomputer sales to Israel for fear the technology would be diverted to another country.
Both Republican and Democratic administrations have suspected Israel of taking U.S. advanced technology and illegally shipping it to third countries, especially China.
Earlier this month, Israel announced it had suspended under intense U.S. pressure plans to sell advanced radar equipment to China for installation in an early-warning spy plane.
The U.S. intelligence community has evidence that Israel in the mid-1990s sold avionics components from its abandoned Lavi fighter to China for its developing F-10 fighter-bomber. Washington convinced Israel to cancel the Lavi in the late 1980s on grounds it was eating up too large a share of $1.8 billion in annual U.S. defense aid. Modeled on the U.S. F-16 Falcon, the Lavi prototype contained some of the latest American know-how in composite materials and flight controls.
After the 1991 Persian Gulf war, the United States also compiled evidence that Israel transferred Patriot anti-missile technology to China.
The Washington Times reported last year that the DIA suspects Israel of sharing laser-gun technology with China that Tel Aviv gained from an American-Israeli joint program.
Publicly, Israel and China have denied violating U.S. export regulations.
Republicans have accused the Clinton administration and its oversight agencies, which includes the Pentagon's Technology Security Directorate, of being too lax in controlling U.S. technology exports.
The process of approving weapons and so-called "dual use" commodities to Israel, as well as other countries, typically involves the Pentagon, intelligence agencies and the Commerce and State departments.
If analysts in the Technology Security Directorate oppose a transfer, and Mr. Tarbell agrees, the Pentagon's case is taken to an interagency committee. If this group cannot agree, the decision is kicked up to the deputy secretary level.
Pentagon officials say there is a steady stream of applications to transfer technology to Israel.

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