Spain arrests 2 over suspected Iran nuclear export

AP News
Posted: Jan 11, 2013 4:03 PM

MADRID (AP) — Spanish police have arrested two people and seized equipment made by a Spanish company that was to be illegally shipped to Iran for use in its nuclear program, officials said Friday.

Police officers stopped a tractor trailer at a highway toll booth in the northern town of Durango on Wednesday and after an inspection arrested the two people and seized the cargo, an Interior Ministry statement said. It said the police "dismantled a ring trafficking material for the development of the Iranian nuclear program."

The seized objects included 44 valves made of an alloy "containing more than 25 percent nickel and 20 percent chromium by weight, which ... makes them particularly suitable for use in the nuclear industry," the ministry said. It said police also confiscated mounting accessories, export documents to Iran, bank statements and computer information.

The ministry identified the Spanish company as Fluval, which was founded in the 1970s and is located in the northern town of Amurrio.

In a statement supplied to The Associated Press, the company denied any wrongdoing. It denied trying to supply parts to Iran in violation of international law and said it manufactures high-technology valves for oil and gas. "The valves cannot be used in the nuclear industry," Fluval said.

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"Fluval denies having committed any criminal act," the statement said, adding that the company "has always conducted its business in compliance with international laws."

The United Nations, European Union and the U.S. have imposed sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program and have gone after people dealing in "dual-use technology," which can have both civilian and military applications. Iran denies any interest in nuclear arms.

Tehran says its nuclear program is aimed at energy production, but many Western countries have accused it of being a cover for weapons development.