WASHINGTON (AP) - Two men have been charged with trying to illegally export nuclear-related material to Iran that could be used in gas centrifuges to enrich uranium, the Justice Department announced Thursday.
A grand jury indictment in the case also charged one of the men with conspiring to procure radioactive material from the United States for customers in Iran.
Parviz Khaki, a citizen of Iran, was arrested in May by authorities in the Philippines on a U.S. provisional arrest request. The other man, Zongcheng Yi, a resident of China, is a fugitive.
The grand jury charged that in 2008 Khaki asked someone in China to obtain 20 tons of C-350 maraging steel from the U.S. for Khaki's customer in Iran. The enhanced strength of maraging steel is especially suited in gas centrifuges for uranium enrichment. Khaki also communicated with Yi about purchasing 20 tons of maraging steel from a U.S. company with which Yi was in contact.
In pursuit of maraging steel, Khaki allegedly began communicating with an undercover U.S. federal agent posing as an illegal exporter of U.S. goods.
"You know and I know this material" is "limited material and danger goods," Khaki told the undercover agent.
Khaki also reached out to someone in China about buying 20 tons of 7075-O aluminum alloy 80mm rods and 20 tons of 7075-T6 aluminum alloy 150 mm rods from the U.S. or Europe. In one communication, Khaki explained that the aluminum alloy had to be American made because his Iranian customer had found Chinese aluminum alloy was of poor quality.
Lisa Monaco, the assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department's national security division, said the case sheds light on the reach of Iran's illegal procurement networks and the importance of keeping U.S. nuclear-related materials from being exploited by Iran.
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