Spain busts group ac­cused of plans to send arms ma­chin­ery to Iran

Daily Trust - - INTERNATIONAL -

Spain said on Mon­day it had dis­man­tled a group it ac­cused of plot­ting to send in­dus­trial equip­ment to Iran that could be used for weapon man­u­fac­ture in vi­o­la­tion of in­ter­na­tional sanc­tions.

The Span­ish in­te­rior min­istry and civil guard said in a joint state­ment they had ar­rested four people from the group, which is also ac­cused of shar­ing tech­no­log­i­cal in­for­ma­tion through a com­plex busi­ness net­work, in­clud­ing en­gi­neer­ing projects, which may be used to build mis­siles.

The bust came as chief ne­go­tia­tors pre­pared for an­other round of talks in Vi­enna on Tehran’s nu­clear pro­gram, part of ef­forts to reach an agree­ment by late July on re­solv­ing a decade­old dis­pute that has stirred fears of a Mid­dle East war.

The four sus­pects - three Spa­niards and one Ira­nian - were ar­rested in Barcelona, Tar­rag­ona and Palma de Mal­lorca, the Span­ish state­ment said.

The oper­a­tion, dubbed “Ter­ra­cota”, be­gan last year af­ter po­lice reg­is­tered the ac­qui­si­tion of two pieces of ma­chin­ery from a Bri­tish de­fense com­pany.

“Of­fi­cials con­firm that the ma­chin­ery was in­tro­duced il­le­gally into Spain in an at­tempt to hide its real des­ti­na­tion, and with the goal of wait­ing for the right mo­ment to send to Iran,” the state­ment said.

The dual-pur­pose ma­chin­ery, which could be em­ployed for both mil­i­tary and civil­ian pur­poses, may be used to man­u­fac­ture mis­sile cas­ing as well as parts which could be in­cluded in gas cen­trifuges for ura­nium en­rich­ment, it said.

Western pow­ers want Iran to sig­nif­i­cantly scale back its nu­clear ac­tiv­i­ties in or­der to deny it any ca­pa­bil­ity of quickly di­vert­ing them to the pro­duc­tion of a nu­clear bomb, if it de­cided to “weaponize” its en­rich­ment of ura­nium.

Iran says its en­rich­ment pro­gram is a peace­ful bid to gen­er­ate elec­tric­ity and de­nies hav­ing any nu­clear bomb de­signs.

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