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French satellite builder Thales Alenia is suspending an agreement with Russia to supply satellites. The first craft to be affected by the decision is a military so-called ‘Spy’ satellite for the Russian military.
The decision follows on from a report by the US intelligence services suggesting that the French satellites contain US-designed or supplied space technology, and these parts might fall foul of the tough US regulations on supplying such technology to Russia.
Reportedly, Thales Alenia has various contracts with the USA to supply 7 satellites, and these contracts could be impacted if Thales continues to work with Russia.
Thales insists that its ‘Russian’ satellite does not contain US elements that do not comply with US export regulations and in particular its International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) rules.
France has recently scrapped plans to supply helicopters to Russia and a giant aircraft carrier because of the ITAR rules, and as a response to Russia’s invasion of the Crimea and the problems in the Ukraine.