Thursday, November 24, 2011

Israel: Illicit Israeli Military Technology Transfers Continued Amidst US State Department Infighting - Audit

SOURCE Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy

A newly declassified US Department of State report obtained by the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep) reveals how political infighting and turf battles undermined efforts to reign in illicit Israeli transfers of sensitive US military technology. In March of 1992 US State Department inspector general Sherman Funk issued his "Report of Audit" about efforts to stem illegal Israeli transfers of US military technology. The report found Israel "is systematically violating U.S. arms control laws." America's "Blue Lantern" system conducted in-country inspections by deploying Customs officials and other qualified US embassy personnel to verify that "sensitive U.S. Munitions List items and technology are used only for authorized purposes."

The audit uncovered a breakdown in US inspection regimes within Israel. The State Department relied on "government to government" assurances that items were not "retransferred" or "used for unauthorized purposes." Shipments to non-government entities could only be checked if Israeli government officials granted permission.

Sherman Funk found this trust-based approach to be wholly inadequate. "After reviewing the end use procedures, we stated to post officials that relying entirely on government-to-government assurances is an inadequate verification procedure. This is especially true for a country which, according to numerous intelligence reports, is systematically violating U.S. arms control laws."

But the US State Department's own Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs (PM) reined in the Blue Lantern investigators by demanding that "investigations were generally not to be conducted unless authorized." One of the Blue Lantern audits profiled in the report found US telemetry equipment being put to prohibited uses. When notified, the State Department's Directorate of Defense Trade Control refused to take action and then closed the case.

"Report of Audit" was obtained during IRmep's multi-year grant-funded research project investigating Israeli nuclear weapons technology and material trafficking. IRmep's upcoming report analyzes how US weapons-grade fissile material was diverted from the Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation (NUMEC) in Apollo, Pennsylvania to Israel based on newly declassified documents obtained under FOIA and Mandatory Declassification Reviews and archival research. It also assesses the overall effectiveness of US inspections regimes to detect and deter such activities.

"Report of Audit" may be downloaded at Requests for advance copies of IRmep's study may be sent to including name, address and organizational affiliation.

IRmep is a Washington based nonprofit organization that studies US-Middle East policy formulation.