NEW YORK (AP) — The CEO of a New York-based metallurgical company pleaded guilty Tuesday to illegally exporting to Iran a metallic powder that can be used to build missiles.
Erdal Kuyumcu, 44, pleaded guilty in Brooklyn federal court to conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.
Federal prosecutors said Kuyumcu, the CEO of Global Metallurgy LLC., conspired to export a powder containing cobalt and nickel without obtaining the required license from the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control.
Prosecutors said the powder can be used to coat gas turbine components and also can be used in aerospace, missile production and nuclear applications. Such metals are closely regulated by the U.S. Department of Commerce to combat nuclear proliferation and protect national security, and exporting them without a license is illegal.
But Patrick A. Mullin, an attorney for Kuyumcu, denied the powder has missile production or nuclear applications. "Rather, this powder is used primarily for industrial gas turbines," Mullin said.
Prosecutors said Kuyumcu and others conspired to obtain more than 1,000 pounds of the metallic powder from a U.S.-based supplier for export to Iran. They said Kuyumcu and a co-conspirator hid the destination of the goods by arranging for the powder to be shipped first to Turkey and then to Iran.
Kuyumcu faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
His March 1 arrest came after the breakthrough U.S-Iran nuclear deal, in which the U.S. agreed to drop charges against 14 Iranian nationals, some of whom were accused of trying to send arms and electronic test equipment there. Kuyumcu is a United States citizen.