November 27, 2012 / 7:30 PM / in 5 years

Spanish company denies part in nuclear smuggling plan to Iran

MADRID, Nov 27 (Reuters) - Basque company ONA Electroerosion denied on Tuesday charges made by the Spanish tax authorities that it had smuggled machinery to Iran to use in the country’s nuclear programme.

The company said it has absolutely nothing to do with Iran’s nuclear programme and that all its exports to any country of equipment such as fan-manufacturing machines met with international rules.

On Monday, Spain’s tax agancy 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.

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.

However, the company, based in Durango in the northern Basque Country in Spain denied any made-to-measure machines were sold to Iran.

It said it had sold machinery to an Iranian company in 2009 after permission was granted for the sale, and that another permit was denied in the same year and so the sale did not go ahead.

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 generating electricity.

Spain’s tax agency said it had raided the company’s premises on Nov. 13, removing documents and other information it was still analysing.

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.

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