Two Arrested in California; Charged with Illegal Sales to Iran
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Two Iranians are under arrest on charges they illegally diverted to Iran equipment that can be used to make missiles or nuclear weapons.
Ray Amiri and Don Danesh were arrested Wednesday in Newport Beach, Calif., and were being held without bail, the Commerce Department announced in Washington. Amiri, 43, is the owner of Ray Amiri Computer Consultants of Newport Beach, and Danesh, 55, is the company’s operations manager.
If convicted of violating export control laws, they could be sentenced to five years in prison and fined $250,000, said Brooks D. Ohlson, special agent in charge of Commerce’s Office of Export Enforcement’s Los Angeles area field office.
The equipment allegedly diverted to Iran includes portable oscilloscopes, which measure and analyze electrical impulses and can be used in missile guidance systems, the arrest announcement said.
Iran is on the State Department’s list of countries that support international terrorism. Federal law requires exporters to obtain licenses from the Commerce Department to ship high-tech items to Iran.
Amiri and Danesh are charged with exporting such equipment to Iran without the necessary licenses.
From 1988 through 1990, Amiri received licenses from Commerce to export at least $345,000 of equipment to Iran, according to department documents obtained previously by The Associated Press. Most of the licenses were for computer and telecommunications equipment.
The equipment was to be sold to, among others, the Iran Telecommunications Research Center and the National Iranian Oil Co., according to the documents.
The case is one of the first involving alleged diversion to Iran of high- technology items with both civilian and military uses, Ohlson of the export enforcement office said in a telephone interview from Irvine, Calif.
The Commerce Department granted 372 licenses worth $282.4 million for technology exports to Iran from late 1987 through September 1990. The department documents show that some of the exports had potential military uses. More than 300 of the licenses were for computers.
Some of the licenses were approved under a legal exemption permitting the fulfillment of previous contracts, the department has said.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Kirtland L. Nahlum in Los Angeles refused to allow bail for either Amiri or Danesh because of a ″significant risk″ that they would flee the United States, the Commerce announcement said. It said Amiri’s company was searched early this year by agents with a search warrant.
Amiri had just returned to California from a months-long stay in Iran, Ohlson said.