Mitutoyo Corp. falsified the name of the Iranian recipient of a high-tech measuring machine in 1997 when it applied for an export permit from the Japanese government, according to investigative sources.
Mitutoyo, which makes precision measuring devices, entered a fictitious corporate name and not that of Pars Switch Co., the real recipient, in seeking the permit from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, the predecessor of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the sources said.
The equipment was exported that year via Seian, a trading house based in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, to Pars Switch, which was on a MITI watch list of foreign corporations suspected of developing weapons of mass destruction.
The sources at the Metropolitan Police Department said the company could be involved in Iran’s nuclear development program.
They alleged that Mitutoyo fabricated the corporate name of the recipient to prevent MITI from rejecting the permit application.
Mitutoyo entered Pars Switch’s real address on the application document, even though it used a bogus name for the company, according to the sources, who are knowledgeable about investigations by the Public Safety Division of the Tokyo police.
It apparently fabricated the name of the recipient at the instruction of Seian and Pars Switch, which appear to have held consultations beforehand concerning the falsification, the sources said.
Police raided Seian’s Tokyo office Friday on suspicion of illegally selling the precision measuring instruments to Pars Switch in 1997.
They also arrested Mitutoyo’s current and a former president as well as three other executives on suspicion of exporting two high-tech measuring devices convertible for use in the manufacture of nuclear weapons to Malaysia in 2001 without government permission.
One of the two measuring machines was found in a nuclear facility in Libya by International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors during their 2003-2004 checks.
The machines, known as three-dimensional machines, can be used to manufacture centrifuge machines to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons. Their export is subject to restrictions under the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Law and the Export Trade Control Ordinance.
Investigators also found that Mitutoyo used two different names for the same three-dimensional measuring machine that eventually ended up in Libya’s hands. The machine allegedly traveled via the nuclear black market run by Pakistani nuclear physicist Abdul Qadeer Khan.
The investigators believe Mitutoyo used the different names for the same machine in addition to fabricating figures to make the machine appear less capable than it actually was, in order to bypass Japanese export regulations on dual-use high-tech products, the sources said.
In January 2000, the Public Safety Division searched Seian over alleged links with another trading firm, Sun Beam K.K., whose former directors were arrested on suspicion of exporting components for a sighting device for rocket launchers to Iran.
The documents the police seized in the 2000 case as well as the Mitutoyo dossiers it confiscated in connection with its high-tech machine exports supported suspicions that Mitutoyo’s three-dimensional measuring machines and several other precision measuring instruments had ended up in the hands of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard and Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics between 1984 and 1992.
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