German nuclear material smuggled to Iran

March 28, 2006 at 5:59 AM
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BERLIN, March 28 (UPI) -- German customs agents have raided the offices of 41 companies and found extensive evidence for illegal exports to support Iran's nuclear program.

Some 250 German agents last week searched companies in ten of Germany's 15 states, according to a report from public broadcaster ARD. Officials from a prosecutor's office in Potsdam, a city neighboring Berlin, confirmed the details of the report.

Benedikt Welfens, a spokesman for the prosecutors' office, told ARD that a Berlin-based company acted as the main hub for organizing the exports.

"Its main business is the nuclear program of Iran," he said in the report, which was aired Monday night. "We found out that the employees of this company purposefully contacted companies in Germany to buy very specific components for Iran."

Seven employees of the Berlin-based company, mainly of Russian origin, organized hydraulic pumps and other specialized material to be sent to Iran.

At least one German firm knew about the illegality of the exports, the report claimed. In one case, agents confiscated specialized cables and money worth more than $2.4 million. The material, which could be used for civilian as well as military purposes, was to be sent to Iran via front firms in Moscow and Dubai. The investigation is ongoing.

Iran may face United Nations-mandated sanctions over its nuclear program, which it insists is peaceful and not aimed at producing nuclear weapons.

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