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Israel a top weapon exporter

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  • ummyakoub
    Israel placed in top five weapons exporting countries The Associated Press 19 November 2003 http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/362581.html With an arsenal
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 5, 2004
      Israel placed in top five weapons exporting countries

      The Associated Press
      19 November 2003


      With an arsenal ranging from the Uzi to attack drones and airborne
      early warning systems, Israel has quietly transformed itself into
      one of the world's top defense exporters.

      Defense News has ranked Israel as No. 3 based on 2002 contracts, and
      an Israeli expert told The Associated Press the country was now
      considered to be in the top five. Growing sales to Turkey and India,
      two major new markets for Israel, have driven the surge.

      The country's success as a weapons exporter comes against the
      backdrop of three years of Israeli-Palestinian violence that has
      stifled Israel's economic development and deepened its isolation.

      Until this summer, the Defense Ministry refused to publish
      statistics on arms sales, although some figures had been provided in
      background briefings. The subject remains sensitive, especially
      because of some critics' charges that Israel passes on American
      military technology to third countries.

      Defense Ministry figures show Israeli weapons export contracts were
      worth $4.1 billion in 2002 - up from $2.6 billion the previous year.
      Israel's overall exports are around $30 billion.

      In June, Defense News ranked Israel 3rd in defense exports, behind
      only the U.S. and Russia. The magazine, a U.S. weekly specializing
      in military issues, said those countries had defense exports of
      $13.2 billion and $4.4 billion, respectively.

      But there is no consensus on the exact numbers, in part because some
      countries use contracts for their totals and others use actual

      Efraim Inbar of Tel Aviv's BESA Center for Strategic Studies
      estimated that the top five defense exporters - not necessarily in
      this order - were now the United States, Russia, France, Britain and

      Richard Grimmett of the Congressional Research Service in
      Washington, applying a strict standard, credits Israel in his latest
      annual report with contracts of only $1 billion in 2002, placing it
      eighth - although if Israel's figures were accepted, here, too, it
      would be third behind the United States and Russia.

      Grimmett could not explain the discrepancy but said that
      "definitions count and countries have different ways of
      tabulations... We don't count letters of intent or memoranda of

      A major reason for Israel's recent surge was a $700 million deal to
      upgrade Turkish tanks, according to Barbara Opall-Rome, Tel Aviv
      correspondent of Defense News.

      In addition to India and Turkey, other large markets for Israeli
      weapons systems include the United States, Singapore and Sri Lanka.

      Some Israeli weapons have gone to controversial buyers - the
      Pinochet regime in Chile, for example, or Li Peng's China in the
      wake of the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989.

      Today, Defense Ministry spokeswoman Rachel Niedak-Ashkenazi says, a
      parliamentary committee must give its approval for all Israeli
      weapons transfers, and the Defense Ministry prevents weapons systems
      from going to countries with checkered political records.

      Some 200 arms manufacturers operate in Israel, but five companies -
      the state-owned Israel Aircraft Industries, or IAI, Israel Military
      Industries and Rafael, and privately held Elbit and Elrisa - account
      for about 90 percent of all foreign sales.

      Israeli and foreign analysts say Israel's evolution into a big time
      arms exporter reflects the lessons learned from fighting five wars
      in 55 years, and the close working relations between the Israel
      Defense Forces and Israeli defense industries. It also comes from
      knowing what to sell and where to sell it.

      Israel has also benefited from its ties to the United States and
      access to U.S. technology. Much of Israeli avionics is based on U.S.

      Missiles, pilotless aircraft and the upgrading of existing weapons
      systems are special areas of strength for the Israeli defense

      Israel Aircraft Industries had $2.1 billion in defense sales in
      2002, 75 percent of them exports. Israeli and foreign media have
      reported that India accounts for at least 50 percent of its foreign

      In September, India agreed to purchase four Phalcon airborne early
      warning systems, which consist of IAI avionics fitted onto Russian
      Ilyushin airliners. The deal, worth an estimated $1 billion, will
      come into force when final details are worked out.

      IAI is also angling to sell India the Arrow missile defense system,
      which it is developing together with the Chicago-based Boeing

      Because of Boeing's participation, the U.S. government will have to
      give its permission for any Arrow deal to go through.

      This worries some Israeli defense officials. In 2000, the United
      States vetoed an intended $2 billion Phalcon sale to China,
      ostensibly because of American fears of an increased threat to
      Taiwan and to U.S. pilots in the event of war with China.

      The deals may have even broader strategic value, said Yitzhak
      Shichor, an Asian expert at Israel's University of Haifa.

      "India has close relations with Iran, which Israel sees as a nuclear
      threat," Shichor said. "The diplomatic leverage accruing to Israel
      from the Indian weapons sales could help it in this area."

      Shichor said the same process may also be at work in Turkey.

      Israeli weapons sales there have amounted to $3 billion since 1996,
      including modernization of U.S-made F-4 and F-5 jet fighters and
      co-production of air-to-ground missiles.

      Shichor noted that the Israeli air force regularly trains over
      Turkish airspace, and Israeli and Turkish intelligence services
      share information about military developments in Syria and Iran.

      "Turkey is very important to Israel's interests," he said. "Weapons
      sales have helped to warm the relationship.



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