Federal Agents Accuse Two of Export Violations : Technology: Pair allegedly sold Iran unlicensed oscilloscopes, which have applications in missile guidance and nuclear weapons testing.
Federal agents arrested two Iranian citizens here Wednesday on charges of violating U.S. export regulations by shipping restricted high-tech equipment to Iran, the Commerce Department said.
Agents for the department arrested Reza Amiri, 43, and Don Danesh, 55, of Ray Amiri Computer Consultants of Newport Beach for allegedly selling unlicensed portable oscilloscopes to Iran, said Brooks Ohlson, special agent in charge of the Commerce Department’s office of export enforcement in Newport Beach.
Oscilloscopes can be used in both civilian and defense applications, including the development of missile guidance systems and for processing data from nuclear weapons tests.
The Commerce Department has banned their unlicensed export to countries such as Iran, which has been linked to international terrorism and is believed to be working on nuclear projects, Ohlson said. He declined to say whether the Iranian government was involved.
“We believe this was nothing but a front company,” Ohlson said. “We presume they have succeeded in shipping illegal exports.”
U.S. Magistrate Kirtland L. Nahlum in Los Angeles refused to allow bail for either man because of the risk that they would flee the country to avoid prosecution. The suspects are being held by federal authorities in Los Angeles. Neither could be reached for comment.
If convicted of knowingly violating export control laws, each suspect could face five years in prison and fines up to $250,000. More charges against the two men are expected to follow as the investigation proceeds, Ohlson said.
The arrests cap an investigation begun earlier this year by the office of export enforcement and the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles.
Acting on a tip, federal agents searched the company’s offices for evidence in February and seized records dating from June 1, 1989, to Feb. 28, 1991. Ohlson said federal agents tracked Reza Amiri, who returned to the country several days ago after a lengthy stay in Teheran.
Export controls were loosened by the Bush Administration in 1990 as a result of subsiding East-West tensions.
But after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait a year ago raised the prospect of wartime use of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, several federal agencies moved to tighten export controls on so-called dual-use technologies to certain countries such as Iran.
In June, citing a breakdown in regulation of exports that helped Iraq build its war machine, a House committee advocated creating a separate agency to license the sale of sensitive American technology to foreign countries.