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Iran tried to secretly buy possible nuclear tech — report

UN sanctions compliance panel says Tehran tried to purchase compressors from US corporation using fake documentation

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks at the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) April 27, 2015 at the United Nations in New York. (AFP/Timothy A. Clary)
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks at the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) April 27, 2015 at the United Nations in New York. (AFP/Timothy A. Clary)

The Iranian government attempted to purchase technology that can be used in its nuclear program using false documentation in an attempt to bypass international sanctions, Reuters reported.

The attempted purchase was uncovered by Czech officials who managed to prevent the sale, according to the latest annual report of the UN Security Council’s Iran sanctions committee.

The incident is likely to bolster concerns that the Iranian regime may not adhere to a major nuclear deal Tehran is negotiating with world powers.

The report details Iran’s attempt to purchase compressors manufactured by the Prague-based American-owned company Howden CKD Compressors using a “false end user.”

“The procurer and transport company involved in the deal had provided false documentation in order to hide the origins, movement and destination of the consignment with the intention of bypassing export controls and sanctions,” the report said, according to Reuters.

Compressors of certain types — the exact type of compressor being purchased has not been reported — are useful in the uranium enrichment process required to produce both nuclear energy, and at higher levels of enrichment, also nuclear weapons.

The contract was valued at some $61 million. The parties attempting to make the purchase said the compressors were “needed for a compressor station, such as the kind used to transport natural gas from one relay station to another,” Reuters reports, citing a Czech official.

According to the UN panel, the Czech incident wasn’t the only piece of evidence Tehran is actively seeking to circumvent sanctions. Britain, the report said, had tracked another nuclear procurement network for Tehran.

Under an interim deal struck between world powers and Iran, the Islamic Republic agreed to scale back its nuclear activities, including stopping higher levels of enrichment, in exchange for a negotiated relief to international sanctions.

Israel and several Arab states have criticized the emerging deal. The US and other negotiating powers have said Iran has complied with the conditions set by the interim deal. A final nuclear deal is scheduled to be concluded at the end of June.

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