Reuters: Seven people are being investigated over exports of German equipment that could be useful to Iran’s nuclear program, prosecutors said on Monday. BERLIN (Reuters) – Seven people are being investigated over exports of German equipment that could be useful to Iran’s nuclear program, prosecutors said on Monday.
Benedikt Welfens, spokesman for the prosecutors’ office in Potsdam, near Berlin, said investigators wanted to question the seven, most of them Russians, after seizing cash, equipment and records in raids on 41 sites across Germany last week.
He said they were not under arrest but declined to comment on their whereabouts.
Welfens said German-made electronic components, transformers and special cables and pumps worth 2 million to 3 million euros ($2.4 million to $3.6 million) were found to have been delivered to Iran via Russia.
“It’s not that much, but it may rise. We have to look at the information and data that we’ve found,” he said.
Welfens said the equipment could have been useful “on the margins” of Iran’s nuclear program, which the United States alleges is a front for developing atomic weapons.
The United Nations nuclear watchdog has reported Tehran to the Security Council for failing to convince it that its atomic program is purely for peaceful civilian purposes, as Iran maintains.
Germany has strict rules against the sale of arms and sensitive technology to Iran and some other countries. Welfens said the shipments in question were sent to Russia by up to six small specialist German firms, which he did not name.
They would be illegal only if the companies knew that the goods were being sent on to Iran. “We believe one of the firms had knowledge of that,” he said.
The transactions dated from 2004 and 2005 and orders were placed by a “front company” based in Berlin. Prosecutors plan to contact Russian authorities in the next stage of their probe.
During last week’s raids, customs officials seized about 2 million euros and some special cable equipment which was to be shipped to Iran, but whose exact purpose was unclear.
In previously announced cases, federal prosecutors have charged two men and are investigating two others on suspicion of spying for a foreign intelligence service to obtain missile technology. Government sources have said the country involved is Iran.
The federal prosecutors are also in contact with the U.N. nuclear watchdog in Vienna as it investigates German involvement in a nuclear black market that supplied Iran, Libya and North Korea with uranium enrichment technology that can be used to produce fuel for nuclear power plants or weapons.