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Current U.S. law bans the Japanese from even investigating the purchase as a result of the amendment to a defense bill that prohibits export of the F-22. Yet the Bush administration has done nothing to seek a change in the law that would allow it, something the Air Force favors because an export version would lower unit costs.

The official said the F-22, which can easily penetrate air defenses in China or North Korea, could be deployed solely by the U.S. in Asia, which was done recently on a temporary mission.

“On the other hand, the U.S. already provided the Aegis to us, and I don’t see much sense in keeping another military secret from a major ally,” the official said, noting that the recent leak of Aegis secrets from the Maritime Self-Defense Forces sailor could be a problem.

The official said Japan is not worried by China’s opposition to the sale of F-22s. However, China’s recent appointment of new Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, a former interpreter who was dubbed “Tiger Yang” by former President George Bush, may be an effort by Beijing to head off any F-22 sale to Japan and promote other issues China views as important.

Iran assassin An Iranian opposition group has identified a senior member of the Iranian government as linked to a 1989 assassination in Austria.

Brig. Gen. Mohammed Jafari, deputy head of the Iranian National Security Council and a senior member of the Qods Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, was part of the formal Iranian government delegation that took part in the recent conference on Iraq in Sharm el Sheik, Egypt.

The general also was the focus of a major U.S. military operation to capture him in January in Irbil, Iraq. The raid netted five Iranians linked to insurgent support, but Gen. Jafari escaped the hunt and made it back to Iran, where he is deputy to Ali Larijani, the Iranian nuclear negotiator.

Gen. Jafari was part of the Iranian assassination team that killed Abdolrahman Qasemlou, leader of the Iranian-Kurdistan Democratic Party, on July 13, 1989, in a Vienna apartment. An arrest warrant was issued, but Gen. Jafari was allowed by the Austrian government to return to Iran.

“By sending a notorious terrorist like Jafari to the most prominent international gathering like the meeting in Sharm el Sheik, the clerical regime clearly showed that for them negotiations and diplomacy are only tools to facilitate their terrorist objectives, export of fundamentalism and acquiring nuclear weapons,” said Shahin Gobadi, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of National Council of Resistance of Iran, an Iranian opposition group.