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World News

Canada says man tried to send Iran uranium devices

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian police, acting on a tip-off from the United States, charged a Toronto man on Friday with trying to illegally export nuclear technology to Iran.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said Mahmoud Yadegari had attempted to obtain pressure transducers, devices that are used to make enriched uranium but can also have military applications.

“The declared point of destination was Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. However, we have evidence to support the fact that its ultimate destination was Iran,” police Inspector Greg Johnson told a televised news conference in Milton, Ontario.

He said Yadegari had been charged under a United Nations act limiting exports to Iran, which is under heavy international pressure to halt its nuclear program.

Foreign analysts believe Tehran has yet to prove that it has mastered industrial-scale enrichment of uranium, the key to making fuel in large, usable quantities.

Iran has slowly expanded its Natanz uranium enrichment plant in defiance of United Nations resolutions demanding it stop over concerns Tehran’s goal is production of atomic bombs.

Iran denies it wants to make nuclear weapons and says the program is aimed at generating electricity.

The Mounties said Yadegari had tried to obtain the transducers from the United States and also attempted to conceal the fact he planned to ship them to Iran without a permit. The devices are controlled items and there are restrictions on where they can be exported.

Yadegari, who is in jail pending a bail hearing, was arrested after a joint operation of Canadian and U.S. authorities.

He was initially charged on Thursday and Johnson said Yadegari is likely to face additional charges under various Canadian statutes in the near future.

“Counter proliferation of controlled goods investigations (are) undertaken to stop the shipment of strategic technologies and goods where there are indications they may be diverted to illicit end users or sanctioned countries,” Johnson said.

A police spokesman earlier told CTV television that the probe was started after U.S. authorities discovered Yadegari was trying to obtain the devices.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said in February it could not verify Iran’s planned Arak heavy water reactor was being designed only for peaceful uses because Tehran had been denying visits by IAEA inspectors since August.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Peter Galloway

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