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Rabin Denies Israel Helped China Modify Missile Later Sold to Saudis

Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin has flatly denied an American press report that Israeli technicians helped the Chinese modify and improve an intermediate range ballistic missile subsequently sold to Saudi Arabia.

“Israelis were never partners in the transfer of technology or anything related to ground-to-ground missiles to China,” Rabin was quoted by Israel Television as saying on Monday night.

He was responding to a report Monday in The Washington Post that Israelis helped the Chinese develop the weapon, improve the accuracy of its guidance system and modify it to carry conventional instead of nuclear warheads.

The missile, known as the CSS-2, has a range of more than 3,000 miles. Its presence in Saudi Arabia poses a threat to Israel.

The Saudis purchased the weapon from China without the knowledge of the United States, which has been the main supplier of arms to that country.

Rabin was quoted as saying that “if anyone is looking for an alibi about how the United States was taken by surprise by a friendly nation, Saudi Arabia, and is trying to pin the blame on Israel, let him look elsewhere.”

The Washington Post said its sources were divided over whether the Israelis knew of the impending sale of the missile to Saudi Arabia when they were helping the Chinese improve it.

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