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June 15, 1987

US “FURIOUS” WITH TOSHIBA

By CBR Staff Writer

Why is the US so furious with Toshiba Corp that a $100m contract for portable computers for the Air Force has been suspended, Toshiba could find itself barred from exporting to the US at all, and US officials are saying we’re going to hang these people in public? The New York Times has conducted a penetrating investigation of the case and finds that the issue is that, under a contract worth less than $18m in total, Toshiba Machine, 50.8% owned by Toshiba Corp, exported to the Soviet Union in 1983 a numerically-controlled machine tool far more complex than the one shown on export documents, and capable of machining submarine propellers that made much less noise than those then in use in Soviet subs; by the Russians’ insistence, the computer controls for the machine tools came from Norwegian state-owned Kongsberg Vaapenfabrikk so that the Norwegian government is also deeply out of favour with the US government; but why is the technology leak regarded so seriously by the Pentagon? It is estimated that it will cost $1,000m to develop new sensors sensitive enough to detect the vibrations generated by the new submarine propellers.

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