5 Accused in Illegal Nuclear Exports to Pakistan, India, SAfrica
HANAU, West Germany (AP) _ Five West Germans have been accused of exporting components to Pakistan that could be used to make nuclear weapons and of shipping reactor material to South Africa and India, officials said Thursday.
The case is the worst export scandal to hit West Germany since accusations last year that West German companies helped build an alleged chemical weapons plant outside Tripoli, Libya.
The five suspects are accused of violating West Germany’s laws for the control of war weapons and its export regulations, said a statement by the prosecutor’s office in Hanau, near Frankfurt.
According to the statement, the suspects are Rudolf Ortmayer, former head of the Neue Technologie GmbH company of Gelnhausen; a former business partner, physicist Peter Finke; chemist Heinrich Weichselgartner; and two unidentified businessmen.
From 1981-88, Ortmayer and Finke allegedly sent Pakistan equipment and components for producing nuclear fuel rods without obtaining the necessary permit, the statement said.
The prosecutors also said the two unidentified men and Weichselgartner are suspected of illegally shipping tritium gas to Pakistan in 1985-86, as well as shipments of equipment for collecting and purifying the gas.
Tritium can be used in the manufacture of nuclear weapons.
Ortmayer was additionally accused of exporting to India material for two atomic reactors, and a test device for measuring fuel rods to South Africa, in both cases without the necessary permits, said the statement.
Both Ortmayer and Finke were additionally charged with failing to pay about 5 million marks ($2.9 million) in taxes, the statement said.
The statement said arrest warrants for the suspects were ″carried out″ but it did not say if all five were in custody.
The investigation was launched in November 1987, and the case has been the subject of special parliamentary hearings.
The suspects could face up to 18 years in prison if convicted.
The case follows last year’s scandal triggered by U.S. accusations that West German firms helped build an alleged poison gas plant in Libya. The West German government at first rejected the reports, but later German prosecutors launched an investigation that is continuing.
West Germany, embarrassed by the Libya scandal, toughened up its export laws last year and vowed to crack down on violators.