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The Tokyo-based machinery maker under investigation for allegedly exporting equipment with possible military applications to Iran and North Korea is believed to have engaged in such trade since 1987, sources said Friday.

Seishin Enterprise Co. exported to Iran industrial crushers that could also be used to produce solid fuel for missiles on a number of occasions between 1987 and 2000, the sources said.

Police and customs officials raided Seishin’s factories in Tochigi and Fukuoka prefectures for the third time Friday. The firm was also searched in December and January.

The sources said the firm exported the crushers, known as jet mills, to Iran for the first time in 1987 and exported several more and related equipment to that country over the next 12 years or so.

The civilian application of jet mills is generally to produce powdered agricultural chemicals and medical drugs.

Their export, however, requires government approval because they can be put to military use, the sources said.

When Seishin exported the jet mills to Iran, it allegedly presented customs officials with falsified documents that said government authorization was not required to export the equipment.

A representative of the firm declined comment except to say the individual in charge of the case was not available.

It was recently alleged that Seishin Enterprise exported a jet mill to North Korea in 1994 on the North Korean ferry Man Gyong Bong-92. The passenger-cargo ship, which travels between Niigata port and the North Korean port of Wonsan, has been linked to clandestine operations carried out by Pyongyang.

Japan has been restricting exports of weapons-related materials and civilian goods that could have military applications to these countries under the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Control Law.

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