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The BBC's Richard Lister reports
"There are tight restrictions on the transfer of US rocket technology"
 real 28k

Thursday, 6 April, 2000, 19:21 GMT 20:21 UK
Lockheed faces China trade charges

Lockheed denies violating export laws
The US government has accused the Lockheed Martin aerospace company of giving sensitive rocket technology to China in contravention of US export controls.

In a letter to the corporation released on Thursday, the State Department listed 30 violations of arms export regulations relating to help given to Chinese satellite launchers and rocket development organisations.

The company could be deprived of export licenses for three years and fined up to $15 million, the director of the State Department's Office of Defence Trade Controls told the company.

The letter, addressed to Lockheed Vice President Richard Kirkland, alleges that the company violated a ban on providing technical assistance that would improve China's space launch vehicles.

The company has 30 days to respond.

One of the State Department's complaints is that the company illegally gave its Chinese partners a scientific assessment of a Chinese-made satellite motor.

The BBC's Richard Lister in Washington says there are tight restrictions on the transfer of US rocket technology because the rockets involved in launching satellites can be fitted with warheads,

Test firings

Four of the charges relate to an alleged visit by Lockheed officials in January 1994 to Hohhot, China, for test firings of motors for use in launching a communications satellite, and for discussions with officials of the Chinese company involved in carrying out the project.

The letter said Lockheed had failed to advise the US government of these events at least 30 days prior to the proposed meeting as was required. Lockheed also failed to ensure the requisite presence of a qualified Defence Department monitor, the letter said.

A Lockheed spokesman, James L. Fetig, told The Washington Post that the company had not violated export laws.

He said it had obtained a Commerce Department licence before assessing the satellite motor.

"National security was not harmed, and it is our understanding that there is no criminal violation involved and no criminal charges pending," Mr Fetig said.

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24 Feb 99 | Asia-Pacific
US vetoes China satellite deal
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