BILBAO Nov 26 A company from Spain's Basque
country smuggled machinery to Iran for likely use in the
country's nuclear programme through an elaborate scheme
involving a shell company in Turkey, Spanish tax authorities
said on Monday.
Spain's tax agency said the company had managed to send over
seven machines designed to make parts for turbines used in
energy plants, in a scheme that violated United Nations security
council sanctions against Iran.
A source close to the operation named the company involved
as ONA Electroerosion.
The machines, sold for nearly 1 million euros ($1.30
million), were destined for use in Iran's nuclear development
programme, according to the agency's investigations to date.
The U.N., the United States and the European Union have
imposed sanctions on Iran for refusing to halt nuclear
enrichment, which Western powers fear is part of a plan to amass
the capability to produce nuclear weapons.
Iran argues its atomic work is for use in medicine and
The company, based in the Basque municipality of Durango,
had been denied a license to export seven fan-manufacturing
machines to Iran in September 2009, precisely because of fears
they could be used in the nuclear programme.
But it later duped Spanish customs by using an intermediary
company set up in Turkey by its Iranian business partner, and
shipped the machinery to Istanbul before dispatching it to
Spain's tax agency said it had raided the company's premises
on Nov. 13, removing documents and other information it was
Its operation, dubbed "Kakum", began earlier this year, when
it became suspicious of the company's activities.
No one has yet been arrested or charged in relation to the
scheme, the agency said, though added those responsible could
face prison sentences and a fine of close to 6 million euros.
($1 = 0.7713 euros)
(Reporting by Arantza Goyaga in Bilbao and Enma Pinedo in
Madrid; Writing by Sarah White; Editing by Sophie Hares)