German police have arrested four men suspected of delivering valves for a heavy water reactor to Iran, breaking an embargo on such exports to the Islamic republic imposed over its disputed nuclear programme.
Prosecutors said about 90 customs officers arrested the men, a German and 3 people with dual German-Iranian citizenship, at their homes in the northern cities of Hamburg and Oldenburg and the eastern town of Weimar, and searched flats and offices.
Four German men are accused of using front companies in Turkey and Azerbaijan to supply the parts in deals worth millions of euros. Additionally Germany has an embargo on nuclear-related trade with Iran.
Several Western countries have concerns about Iran’s nuclear programme, but Iran insists it is for peaceful purposes. Tehran is currently building a heavy-water reactor near the central town of Arak.
A United States think-tank has said Iran aims to have the reactor up and running next year, but the start date could be delayed by an inability to get the right specialist parts.
Four men have been arrested in Germany on suspicion of illegally supplying Iran with parts needed to build a nuclear reactor
German prosecutors said the four arrested men – one German citizen and 3 Iranian-German dual nationals, were supplying special valves to be used in heavy water reactors.
He said in a statement that in 2010 and 2011 the foru suspects are believed to have helped in the delivery of special valves for the construction of a heavy water reactor in Iran and therefore to have broken the Iran embargo.
They did not name the plant but Iran is building a heavy water research reactor near the central town of Arak by the end of 2013. The experts say its nuclear program is entirely peaceful and that the reactor will produce isotopes for medical and agricultural use.
To avoid export controls, the four German men are suspected of having described their customer as a firm based in Turkey and Azerbaijan. The prosecutor said the deliveries were part of an order worth several million euros which Iran was trying to use to secure the necessary valve technology to make a heavy water reactor.
Prosecutors accuse four German on suspicion of supplying nuclear reactor parts to Iran
The United Nations, the US and the European Union have a wide range of sanctions in place aimed at putting pressure on Iran to make concessions on its nuclear programme.
US President Barack Obama ordered new economic sanctions against Iran’s energy sector and some financial firms to make it harder for Tehran to evade the existing sanctions this year.
The latest round of talks between 6 main economy world powers – the United States, China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom and Germany – and Iran on Tehran’s controversial programme ended without a breakthrough in Moscow earlier this year.
The world powers are demanding that Iran suspend enrichment of uranium to 20 percent, close down an underground enrichment facility near the city of Qom and export its stockpile of 20%-enriched uranium – measures described by one Western diplomat as stop, shut and ship.
The world powers saying they are prepared to start by offering help with nuclear safety measures. But Iran wants the West to lift sanctions. It says its non-negotiable right to enrich uranium must be recognised.