Madrid – Spanish authorities raided a company they suspect was exporting machinery to Iran that could be used in Tehran's nuclear program.
The Finance Ministry said in a statement Monday that the company is suspected of sending to Iran, via Turkey, machines for the manufacture of turbine propellers used in energy generation.
According to Spanish daily El Mundo, the company based in Durango, in the northern province of Vizcaya, used a front company in Istanbul. The Tax Office said in a release that those responsible for the plot could face prison sentences and fines of up to six million euros.
In September 2009, the company had been refused a license to export to Iran seven machines for the manufacture of turbine blades commonly used in power generation plants. To circumvent this initial veto, El Mundo reports, the company designed a strategy in collusion with an intermediary Iranian company created in Turkey specifically for this purpose. Formally, then, the final destination of the machinery was Istanbul. However, once in Istanbul the cargo was immediately sent to Tehran, its true destiny.
The European Union and the United States have imposed sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program. They have targeted suspected export control violators dealing in so-called dual-use technology, which can have both civilian and military applications.
Tehran says its nuclear program is aimed at energy production but many Western countries fear it is a cover for weapons development.
With reporting by The Associated Press.