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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Taiwanese company admits supplying Iran with nuclear parts

A Taiwanese company has admitted supplying Iran with critical parts for its nuclear weapons program.
Nuclear proliferation expert David Albright of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security told the AP that Iran tried hard to procure the transducers in Europe and Canada, but was thwarted by a concerted international effort.

However, he said, the existence of the Taiwanese-Chinese connection shows that Iran still has the ability to get what it needs by tapping alternative sources.

"This equipment is likely for its gas centrifuge program," he said.

Lin did not identify the Chinese company that placed the transducer order, except to say that it was involved in the manufacture of pipeline for the oil industry.

He said that he obtained the transducers from a Swiss company, which he declined to name.

Lin said that when he contacted the Swiss firm he had no idea where the transducers were heading.

"It was only at the last minute that the Chinese told me to send them to Iran," he said.

Lin arranged for their direct transportation from Taiwan to the Middle East, he said, rather than sending them to the Chinese company first.

Lin said that he didn't know what happened to the transducers after they arrived in Iran, though he acknowledged that they have an important role in the nuclear industry.

"I know that the (civilian) nuclear research units in Taiwan use these things," he said. "The equipment has multiple uses from semiconductors to solar energy to nuclear work."

A Taiwanese government official told the AP on Friday that an official probe of the Taiwanese-Iranian transducer connection confirmed that 108 of the transducers had been sent from Taiwan to Iran at a Chinese request, but that the equipment was not precise enough to be placed on the island's export control list.

The official, who was in charge of the probe, spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.
Read the whole thing.

'Crippling sanctions' seem unlikely even if the US and Europe manage to agree upon them. They seem even less likely to be enforced. And even if they are enforced, there is likely not enough time for them to be effective.

What could go wrong?


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