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Thursday, 15 June, 2000, 05:59 GMT 06:59 UK
Lockheed fined over secrets breach
Chinese missile test
The secrets improved China's missile technology
By Damian Grammaticus in Hong Kong

The American aerospace group, Lockheed Martin, has agreed to pay the United States government $13m in settlement for passing secret satellite technology to China.

The company agreed to pay the multi-million dollar fine after it was charged with violating the arms export control act.

The secrets were allegedly passed to a Hong Kong-based company, Asiasat, in which the major shareholder was the Chinese government.

According to the United States state department, the information given to Asiasat may have helped China improve its missiles.

In April, Lockheed Martin was charged with 30 violations of the arms export control act.

At issue are crucial components of satellites called 'kick-motors', which fire after launch to place the satellite in its final orbit.

In 1994, Asiasat had sought help from a firm, later bought by Lockheed, because it was having problems with its kick-motors.

Illegal visit

At the time, the majority share in Asiasat was owned by the Chinese government. The state department said that technicians were illegally sent to visit a rocket manufacturing facility in China.

They helped Asiasat by identifying flaws in its kick-motors and making recommendations to improve them. Asiasat was also passed secret details of the American version of the motors.

Lockheed has neither admitted, nor denied, the violations, but has now agreed to pay a fine of $8m and spend a further $5m improving the company's security procedures.

It's thought to be one of the largest penalties ever imposed under arms control regulations.

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See also:

06 Apr 00 | Americas
Lockheed faces China trade charges
24 Feb 99 | Asia-Pacific
US vetoes China satellite deal
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