Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

US Charges Two with Trying to Smuggle Nuclear-Related Equipment to Iran

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

US Charges Two with Trying to Smuggle Nuclear-Related Equipment to Iran

Article excerpt

One of those charged is Iranian; the other, Chinese. An undercover operation leading up to the indictment offered US officials insight into secret efforts in Iran to obtain nuclear capability.

An Iranian businessman and a Chinese importer have been charged in a seven-count federal indictment with conspiring to smuggle nuclear-related equipment from the US to Iran, federal officials announced on Friday.

Parviz Khaki of Iran and Zongcheng Yi of Guangzhou, China, are accused of plotting to evade the US trade embargo of Iran and other export controls by shipping regulated items to Hong Kong before they were reshipped to Iran.

The equipment and materials apparently sought by Mr. Khaki could be used to construct, operate, and maintain gas centrifuges to enrich uranium. Khaki also allegedly sought radioactive materials for shipment to Iran.

The charges were returned by a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C.

"Today's indictment sheds light on the reach of Iran's illegal procurement networks and the importance of keeping US nuclear- related materials from being exploited by Iran," Lisa Monaco, assistant attorney general for national security, said in a statement.

"Iranian procurement networks continue to target US and Western companies for technology acquisition by using fraud, front companies and middlemen in nations around the globe," she said.

The smuggling conspiracy began in October 2008 and continued until January 2011, according to the indictment.

In March 2009, Khaki began dealing with a US-based individual who identified himself as an experienced smuggler. The US-based contact advised Khaki that the product he was seeking could not be exported from the United States legally, but that for a fee he could help make the transaction happen.

What the US contact didn't tell Khaki is that he was an undercover federal agent posing as a smuggler.

The resulting undercover operation offered US officials insight into secret efforts in Iran to obtain nuclear capability.

Although the conspiracy involved discussions about shipping a wide range of equipment and sensitive materials, the indictment charges the men with actually shipping only two products from the US to Iran. …

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