Two accused of violating trade embargo with Iran
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) _ Two men have been arrested on charges of conspiring to ship chemicals that could be used to make nerve gas to Iran, in violation of the U.S. trade embargo.
Prosecutors said Friday the men conspired to ship impregnated alumina, used primarily as a catalyst in the plastics and rubber industry but also used to make phosphorus-oxychloride, a major component of insecticides and the chemical warfare agents VX and GB.
Assistant U.S. attorney Charles Gorder Jr. said the embargo against Iran issued by President Clinton in May 1995 applies to almost all goods, ``but this one could certainly be more serious because of what it could be used for.″
Abdol Hamid Rashidian, an Iranian citizen living in Irvine, Calif., and Henry Joseph Trojack of Las Vegas, were released pending an April 1 trial. If convicted, they face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Federal authorities said Rashidian and Trojack formed a Nevada corporation to purchase the impregnated alumina, and intended to ship it to Iran through a company owned by Rashidian in the Emirate of Dubai.
The Justice Department said the investigation began after suspicious officials at a Portland company called authorities when the two men called looking for impregnated alumina.