A German-Iranian man was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of shipping equipment to be used in Iran's nuclear and missile programs, Germany's federal prosecutor said.
The prosecutor confirmed police had previously searched offices and apartments linked to the suspect in 11 separate locations, across three German states — Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein and North Rhine-Westphalia.
What is the man accused of?
The man, known as Alexander J. under German privacy laws, allegedly exported equipment worth €1.1 million ($1.3 million) to an Iranian individual whose company has been blacklisted by the European Union.
The EU said the recipient used his firm as a front to procure equipment for Tehran's nuclear fuel enrichment.
The federal prosecutor's office said Alexander J. was approached in 2018 and 2019 to procure laboratory equipment.
According to the prosecutor, the suspect shipped a pair of spectrometers, procured for €166,000, to Iran in January 2020. Six months later he shipped two more spectrometers for €388,000.
To do so, he should have applied for a special export licence, as the recipient is on the EU's blacklist — something that he failed to do.
Spectrometers can be used to analyse the magnetic field around atomic nuclei.
Tensions amid efforts to revive nuclear deal
Tuesday's development could add to the West's suspicion over Iran's nuclear activities. A number of Western powers have long accused Tehran of moving forward on enriching weapon's grade uranium in violation of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Under the deal, Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in return for the lifting of sanctions.
But the agreement in accord with the EU and six nations — namely Germany, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States — has been left vulnerable since former US President Donald Trump pulled the US out in 2018.
In response, Iran has said it will press forward with enriching uranium fuel.
Efforts to revive the nuclear deal, including rounds of talks in Vienna, have yet to prove fruitful.
jsi/wmr (AFP, Reuters, dpa)