Thursday, February 9, 2012

U.S. warns French satellite maker over China

(Reuters) - The United States has threatened action that could disrupt a French-led satellite maker's supply chain, spurred by suspicion that it illegally used U.S. know-how or parts in spacecraft launched by Chinese rockets.

The State Department last month quietly warned the company, Thales Alenia Space, that export licenses needed by its U.S. suppliers might be denied, absent greater cooperation in an

investigation of the matter, a department email obtained by Reuters showed.

License refusals could crimp the 2 billion euros ($2.65 billion) in worldwide civil and military sales that the company, known as TAS, posted in 2010.

They also could force a costly product-line revamp and strain U.S. ties with France.

The threat escalates the United States' multi-year push for details on the design and components of a watershed telecommunications satellite that TAS has labeled as free of U.S. parts and therefore exempt from U.S. export controls. Read More