The president and four managers of a Tokyo-based engineering equipment manufacturer were arrested Thursday on suspicion of illegally exporting to Iran grinding machines that can be used in missile development, police officials said.
According to the Metropolitan Police Department, Haruhiko Ueda, 68, president of Seishin Enterprise Co., allegedly violated the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Control Law by exporting jet mills without permission.
Jet mills are used in manufacturing solid fuel for missiles.
The other suspects were identified as Hitoshi Ito, 54, Akira Kamiya, 41, Toshitaka Matsuda, 42, and Eri Tanemura, 29.
Based on the questioning of those involved and other data obtained, police said the equipment exported to Iran is believed to have actually been used in missile development.
Police also suspect that Seishin Enterprise exported to North Korea in March 1994 equipment that can be used for military purposes. The equipment is believed to have been shipped aboard the North Korean ferry Man Gyong Bong-92. No criminal action has been taken on that allegation, however, as the statute of limitations has expired.
Jet mills can grind material into fine powder using compressed air. They fall under the Missile Technology Control Regime, an international agreement regulating trade of equipment that can have military applications.
Due to concerns that jet mills may be used in research and development of solid fuel for missiles, permission from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is needed to export them under the foreign trade control law.
According to police, the suspects allegedly exported two jet mills in May 1999 and November 2000 to a university and a company in Tehran without obtaining permission.
The Tehran company is one of a group of firms engaged in missile development for Iran’s military.
Tokyo police have searched Seishin Enterprise’s headquarters. They have also searched the homes of and questioned executives.
Following his arrest, Ueda admitted to shipping the machines but denied knowing such exports would violate the law, according to MPD officials.
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