Thursday, July 31, 2008

Japan police raid company, suspect nuclear exports

Japan police raid company, suspect nuclear exports

TOKYO (AP) — Authorities raided a company in southwestern Japan on Thursday on suspicion it illegally exported machinery that can be used to make nuclear weapons, police said.

Police raided the headquarters of Horkos Corp., a maker of machining tools and construction equipment, and several other sites in the city of Fukuyama, about 370 miles southwest of Tokyo, said police spokesman Ryoji Manda.

The company is suspected of exporting equipment without obtaining government authorization, he said.

In 2004, Horkos exported several "machining centers" to South Korea, from where they could then have been sold to other countries, Japanese media reported. The equipment is highly precise and can be used to make components for centrifuges that enrich uranium for use in nuclear bombs.

Repeated calls to Horkos Corp. went unanswered Thursday.

Japanese law requires domestic companies to get permission before exporting high-precision manufacturing equipment. Despite the regulations, some advanced equipment from Japan has reportedly been exported to countries looking to develop nuclear weapons.

In 2006, Japanese police arrested the president and other employees of Mitutoyo Corp., and the company later admitted it broke the law in a case involving the export of precision three-dimensional measuring devices.

Japanese news reports said the International Atomic Energy Agency had earlier discovered Mitutoyo-made machinery at nuclear-related sites in Libya during inspections.

No comments: