A MARRIED couple from Shropshire were “groomed” into supplying parts for Iran’s nuclear programme, a court has heard.
Paul Attwater, 65, and Iris Attwater, 66, smuggled prohibited aircraft parts from their company Pairs Aviation to Alexander George, 76, in Malaysia who supplied Iranian aviation firms.
Concluding that the couple had been “very, very naive”, Judge Michael Grieve QC yesterday handed the couple suspended sentences after Mr Attwater insisted he had no idea the parts he was exporting had a military application.
What might have a military application – “dual use” items – can have a very wide definition. I know this very well indeed.
Way back when it was Iraq, not Iran, that was the concern. There’s a specific alloy that is used only in Soviet style nuclear plants. Western use a different alloy, each is only used in nuclear. We had a nice little business buying the Soviet stuff as scrap – usual destination was aluminium alloys for boy racer car wheels. All entirely legal and kosher.
However, if we’d sold the tubes, as tubes and so not as scrap, to people who then put them into the Iraqi nuclear program (can’t recall if there ever was one but at the time all thought that….) then that was a possible 20 year sentence.
To the point that there was a stash of such tubes in Cyprus which we made repeated attempts to buy as scrap, at the scrap price. Never got anywhere as it appears that this was, even if a real stash, a temptation being monitored, to put it lightly, by security types to see who would buy as tubes and try to ship to Iraq. I’ve seen at least one trial reported where people did try to buy as tubes and ship.
Have also dealt with radiation hardened chips for rockets and satellites. If they went into Soyuz to go to the space station then that’s fine. If they got diverted to military use then potential 20 years jug time again.
That is, exactly the same item can be entirely legal or horribly not so dependent upon who is the buyer. And no, you don’t get to claim ignorance of the end user. Strict liability applies here, if the bad guys get it then you’re guilty. The sentence might mitigate, the jury might, but not liability.
It’s an interesting area of business. Ahem.