Tuesday, 25 January, 2022
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US charges 5 men for smuggling equipment to help Pakistan’s nuclear programme

The accused smuggled US goods to entities that are threats to US security for their ties to Pakistan’s weapons programmes, said the US Department of Justice.

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New Delhi: Five men associated with a company called ‘Business World’ in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, were indicted in a federal court in the US for conspiracy to smuggle “US origin goods” to Pakistan to aid the country’s nuclear programme.

The five accused are Muhammad Kamran Wali, 41, from Pakistan, Muhammad Ahsan Wali, 48, and Haji Wali Muhammad Sheikh, 82, from Canada, Ashraf Khan Muhammad Khan (age not mentioned) from Hong Kong, and Ahmed Waheed, 52, from the United Kingdom.

“The defendants smuggled US origin goods to entities that have been designated for years as threats to US national security for their ties to Pakistan’s weapons programs,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers in a statement issued by the US Department of Justice.

“This indictment puts the world on notice not to do business with these defendants and demonstrates our commitment to holding them accountable. It also stands as an example of the kind of deceptive behaviour US businesses need to watch out for in designing appropriate export control and sanctions compliance programs.”

Also read: Every day EU dithers, Iran’s uranium enrichment program expands

Accused ran ‘front companies’ to acquire US goods

According to the indictment, which was returned in October last year and unsealed Wednesday, the five men between September and October 2019 ran an international procurement network of “front companies that existed to acquire US-origin goods for the Advanced Engineering Research Organisation (AERO) and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC)”

They are also accused of exporting goods without licence in violation of the federal law.

PAEC is an independent government authority and research institution based in Islamabad for the research and development of nuclear powers and peaceful use of nuclear technology. AERO is also a company registered in Pakistan. 

Both PAEC and AERO are on the Entity List, which identifies foreign parties that are prohibited from receiving some or all items subject to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) unless the exporter secures a license.

Companies on the Entity List present a risk of diversion to weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programmes, terrorism or other activities contrary to US national security or foreign policy interests. 

Both the PAEC and AERO were added to the Entity List after the US government found that they used intermediaries and front companies to procure items for use in Pakistan’s cruise missile and strategic UAV programmes, said the statement.

“The alleged behaviour of these five individuals presented more than a violation of US export laws, it posed a potential threat to the national security interests of the United States and to the delicate balance of power among nations within the region,” said Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security, Jason Molina.

The statement, however, added that the charges and allegations in the indictment are just accusations and need to be proven to hold the defendants guilty.

Also read: The risk of nuclear proliferation (and war) is growing


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