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Published on Dec 31, 2007
China refuses to back the International Security Council's demand that Iran suspend it's Uranium enrichment activity. But there is more to that story. Recently Russian media reported that China plans to sell Iran 24 combat jets based on Israeli technology. Our Israeli team has more.
In 1980 Israel started developing the "Lavi" fighter jet, which was to be an advanced version of the American F-16. The jet was a source of national pride for Israelis. More than a billion dollars was invested to develop the jet, mostly from the U.S. government. But the Israeli Knesset declared that the project was uneconomical and voted to stop it's development.
20 years later, in January 2007, on the other side of the globe, China proudly presented its Chengdu J-10 fighter jet. According to international aviation experts, the Chinese jet bares striking similarities to the 1980's Israeli Lavi fighter. They say that's because Israelis sold the jet's technology to China.
But according to Russian media, China now intends to sell some of these jets to Iran, a country who's nuclear program is seen as a threat by many Western countries, especially Israel.
The Russian newspaper Kommersant and news agency Novosty, recently reported that China plans to sell the Iranians 24 J-10 fighter jets. They quote an expert who says that Iran will most likely use the jets to protect key facilities, such as a nuclear power plant at Bushehr.
We talked with Kommersant's correspondent, Konstantin Lantratov, who was one of the first to report on the Chinese-Iranian deal. He explains how Russia is involved.
[Constantin Lantratov, Kommersant Newspaper]:
"China recently requested Russia's permission to export the J-10 fighter jets to Iran. The Russians manufacture the jet's engine, therefore the deal cannot be carried out without their consent. As far as I know, Russia has not yet responded to the Chinese request."
China officially denied its agreement to sell the jets to Iran, but the story is far from over.
According to the Paris-based defense and strategy publication TTU, China is planning to supply the J-10 to Syria as well. We will keep you updated as this story unfolds.