Washington Investigates Reports Israel Helped China Develop Jet

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THE US State Department is investigating reports that Israel gave United States technology to China to help it develop a fighter jet.

State Department spokesman Michael McCurry said no evidence of an illegal transfer has turned up but that sanctions would be imposed on Israel if it does.

``This has been an item on our agenda for some time,'' he said Wednesday in response to an Associated Press report quoting a senior Israeli official as saying Israel had sold China ``some technology on aircraft'' under contracts ``very small in magnitude.''

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China is developing a fighter called the F-10 that, according to earlier reports in the Los Angeles Times, will be based on the Lavi, a joint Israeli-US fighter jet project abandoned in 1987. Gen. David Ivri, director-general of Israel's Defense Ministry, suggested in an AP interview that any commercial spinoffs from the project were developed by Israel.

``Those types of reports concern us very deeply,'' Mr. McCurry said, without confirming that Lavi technology was involved. ``This has been going around for some time,'' he said. The issue could be raised during US Defense Secretary William Perry's upcoming trip to Israel.

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