Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Hezbollah night-vision gear was from Britain, Israel says / It's believed to be an export to Iran in drug-fighting effort

Hezbollah night-vision gear was from Britain, Israel says / It's believed to be an export to Iran in drug-fighting effort

08-20) 04:00 PDT Kiryat Shemona, Israel — Israeli intelligence officials have complained to Britain and the United States that sensitive night-vision equipment recovered from Hezbollah fighters during the war in Lebanon had been exported by Britain to Iran. British officials said the equipment had been intended for use in a U.N. anti-narcotics campaign.

Israeli officials say they believe the state-of-the-art equipment, found in Hezbollah command-and-control headquarters in southern Lebanon during the just-concluded war, was part of a British government-approved shipment of 250 pieces of night-vision equipment sent to Iran in 2003.

Israeli military intelligence confirmed that one of the pieces of equipment is a Thermo-vision 1000 LR tactical night-vision system, serial No. 155010, part No. 193960, manufactured by Agema, a high-tech equipment company with branches in Bedfordshire, England, and San Diego. A spokesman for Agema in San Diego denied all knowledge of the system.

The equipment, which needed special export-license approval from the British government, was passed to the Iranians through a program run and administered by the U.N. Drug Control Program. The equipment uses infrared imaging to provide nighttime surveillance that allows the user to detect people and vehicles moving in the dark at a range of several miles.

Use of such equipment would have enabled Hezbollah to detect and record the movements of Israeli forces inside Israel, as well as its military advance into Lebanon.

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