Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

U.S. Says Illegal Exports to Iran Increasing

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

U.S. Says Illegal Exports to Iran Increasing

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- When Susan Yip stood before a federal judge in San Antonio last month, she apologized tearfully for her role in smuggling American technology to Iran.

Yip, a Taiwanese businesswoman, was sentenced Oct. 24 to two years in prison after pleading guilty to obtaining or trying to obtain more than $2.6 million worth of parts and materials that could be used in nuclear weapons, missile guidance systems and radio jammers. The scheme involved 599 transactions with 63 U.S. companies.

Her case is the latest example of what U.S. officials describe as a worrisome trend: Asian companies and middlemen helping Iran illicitly obtain crucial components from American suppliers in violation of U.S. export controls and international sanctions.

U.S. prosecutors have brought eight such cases to court since 2010. They say other cases have not been made public because indictments are sealed or defendants are secretly cooperating.

"Our investigations in recent months have uncovered a growing number of networks illegally exporting restricted U.S.-origin technology, including munitions and materials with nuclear applications, to Iran, through front companies in China and Hong Kong," said Dean Boyd, a Justice Department spokesman.

The Treasury Department has blacklisted hundreds of companies and dozens of individuals around the world, limiting their ability to travel or do business with most banks, for allegedly helping Iran evade sanctions. The Justice Department focuses on prosecuting those who sell Iran military or nuclear technology purchased from U.S. companies.

In the past, Tehran relied on front companies in Malaysia and in the United Arab Emirates, experts say. Both governments have cracked down on the smuggling of technology with military applications amid growing international concern that Iran may be planning to build nuclear weapons. …

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