A federal grand jury has indicted two men, one from Iran and the other from China, on charges of conspiring to send materials from the US to Iran for the purpose of enriching uranium.
Using a Chinese company as a go-between to avoid trade sanctions, the men tried for three years to obtain US materials, such as high-strength steel, that could be used in an Iranian nuclear programme, the US justice department said on Friday.
Iranian citizen Parviz Khaki was arrested in May in the Philippines, while the other man, Zongcheng Yi of China, remains at large, the department said.
The materials and components the suspects were trying to obtain comprised almost "everything you need to build gas centrifuges for uranium enrichment," a law enforcement official told the Reuters news agency.
The two men succeeded in illegally exporting lathes and nickel-alloy wire from the US to China and then to Iran around June 2009, according to the indictment filed by the justice department.
It said the men purchased the materials from US companies without divulging the ultimate destination. They also did not have export licenses required for shipments to countries such as Iran that are under US sanctions.
Other attempts to obtain materials failed, the indictment said.
'Middlemen around the globe'
Iran insists its nuclear programme is peaceful, but Western powers suspect it is masking attempts to develop nuclear weapons.
Khaki allegedly began talking with an undercover US federal agent in 2009, including in emails in which he tried to acquire radioactive source material. The emails continued into 2011, the indictment said.
Lisa Monaco, assistant attorney-general for national security, said the 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.
"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," Monaco said in a statement.
The 24-page indictment was handed up by a grand jury in Washington on Thursday and released on Friday. It did not name the US companies that Khaki and Yi allegedly approached.
|< Prev||Next >|
Other articles in Americas
Zuluaga wins first round of #Colombia election 26 May 2014
#Hollywood director's son 'shoots six dead' 24 May 2014
Rare meteor shower to illuminate Americas 24 May 2014
US states revise death penalty options 23 May 2014
Police among suspects in US child porn bust 22 May 2014
#Brazil bus strike sparks Sao Paulo chaos 21 May 2014
#CIA will end use of vaccine ruse for spying 21 May 2014
Colombia's Zuluaga denies hacking claims 21 May 2014
UK preacher Abu Hamza found guilty in US 19 May 2014
Dozens of children burn to death in #Colombia 19 May 2014