I bet you thought sanctions against Iran were almost ironclad. I bet you thought it could never manage to procure advanced western arms, let alone secret missile technology from a western power. It would unthinkable all of this could happen thanks to an Israeli military contractor…right? Wrong.
…A miniature cooling system by Ricor Cryogenic & Vacuum Systems, used for miniaturized electro-optical equipment and even for missile mechanisms…
U.S. intelligence discovered that the item was sold to a French company which, in turn, sold it to the Chinese who, in turn, may’ve given or sold it to the Iranians. Now, it could sit inside Iranian missiles. There is, of course, the remote possibility that the Israelis did this deliberately in order to sabotage the Iranian weapons system. You’ll recall that the Mossad had tasked Ben Zygier with doing such work inside an Italian company and that a similar set-up caused the sabotage of Iran’s uranium centrifuges at Natanz. But this is highly unlikely, given that the ministry of defense official in charge of approving such export licenses has been summoned to Washington for a major dressing down, after which he’s expected to submit his resignation: a form of security ritual hara-kiri.
The story is somewhat reminiscent of the case of Uzi Arad, former Mossad officer and Netanyahu national security director until he too breached U.S. intelligence secrets and was summoned for a dressing down and eventual professional hara-kiri.
There are so many embarrassing aspects to the Ricor story. But let’s not forget one of the most–not only has the west imposed sanctions on Iran, it has done so at the insistence of Israel. The fact that Israel’s own defense ministry would approve the export of such an advanced piece of military hardware and that it could end up in the hands of Iran is maddening. It makes a mockery of the entire sanctions regime. The next time you read a headline like this, you can thank Israel’s arms industry for possibly facilitating the upgrade of Iran’s missile fleet.
Ricor is an Israeli company which has a U.S. subsidiary. Which brings up an interesting question: when you have such cross-breeding of military technology and each country interested in what the other knows and produces, how do the U.S. and Israel maintain the secrecy of their respective products? How do they decide what may be shared and what protected from the scrutiny of the other?
Returning to the incident in question: of one thing you may be sure though–had it not been the Americans who exposed this incident, Israel would’ve swept it under the rug. The official implicated would’ve received his next promotion on schedule and his pension would be intact. Only when a powerful outside party is involved is there any accountability for the Israeli security apparatus.
There have been other instances in which Israel has agreed to sell its own advanced military weaponry to China. In one case, the U.S., whose own technology was part of the Israeli munition, protested so loudly the contract to sell Falcon surveillance aircraft was cancelled. In another case, Israel agreed to upgrade UAVs it had sold to China years before. Likely, the updated surveillance vehicles would’ve allowed the Chinese to improve their monitoring of the U.S. military in the Far East.
Israeli defense contractors are keenly interested in the Chinese market since its military is one of the fastest expanding in the world. Israel’s thirst to export weapons to China also puts it in thrall of Chinese government interests. This may be one of the reasons you don’t hear Israel complaining about China’s opposition to Iran sanctions and a military attack against that country. None of this is particularly good news for the U.S., which finds China its most dangerous potential adversary in that region.