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Israel Replaces Export Control Chief After Tech Transfer to China

Jan. 3, 2014 - 03:45AM   |  
By BARBARA OPALL-ROME   |   Comments
ISRAEL-PALESTINIAN-JERUSALEM-DAY
Meir Shalit resigned from the Defense Export Control Agency in late December after a joint US-Israeli investigation found that an Israeli subsystem licensed for sale to a French firm had been retransferred to China. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images)
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TEL AVIV — Dubi Lavi, director of UAV research and development programs for Israel’s MoD, is slated to head Israel’s Defense Export Control Agency (DECA) following the unexpected — and reluctantly accepted — resignation of Meir Shalit.

Shalit resigned in late December after a joint US-Israeli investigation found that an Israeli subsystem licensed for sale to a French firm had been retransferred to China.

A 40-year MoD veteran and former director of Israel’s security delegation in New York, Shalit worked closely with US counterparts to plug licensing loopholes and ease residual concerns over suspected Israeli transfers to China and other end-users deemed problematic by Washington.

Shalit’s resignation, an MoD official said, was an unsolicited gesture aimed at forestalling yet another crisis of confidence with Washington over an “unintentional, procedural lapse” that occurred under his watch.

According to Israel Defense, a local media outlet that first reported the story, the retransfer involved miniaturized cooling devices by Ricor Cryogenic & Vacuum Systems of Ein Harod, Israel. The Israeli subsystems were subsequently included in a French electro-optical system that US intelligence agents traced to China.

Israeli sources insisted the retransfer to China was the result of insufficient end-use monitoring and credited Shalit for cooperating with US counterparts to identify lapses and coordinate additional controls of Israel’s oversight regime.

They added that senior Israeli and US officials, including Beth McCormick, director of the Pentagon’s Defense Technology Security Administration, encouraged Shalit to remain on the job and preside over newly implemented reforms.

“No one on our side or on the American side wanted him to leave. But he insisted on taking full responsibility,” the MoD official said.

Shalit declined to comment on his resignation. He will be succeeded by Lavi at the end of January.

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