Two Turks, One Canadian Arrested For Trying To Smuggle Radar System To Iran
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) _ Two Turkish citizens and a Canadian businessman were arrested Monday on charges of conspiring to buy and smuggle to Iran $10 million in sensitive radar and electronics equipment, the U.S. Customs Service announced.
The arrests at Port Newark capped an investigation that began five months ago when Metin Tanir, 49, president of Black Gold International Communications of Montreal, approached an undercover customs agent seeking to purchase the equipment, said U.S. Customs spokesman Michael Kaufman.
Some of the equipment was to be used to defend the Iranian capital of Tehran against air attacks, Kaufman added.
Arrested in addition to Tanir were Gungor Yengin, 48, a retired Turkish military officer and Selhattin Oguzata, 46, an export-import consultant, both of Ankara, Turkey, said Customs agent Arthur Stiffel.
The three were held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York, and were to be arraigned Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Newark on charges of conspiracy and violation of the Arms Export Control Act, Kaufman said.
Each faces a maximum of 20 years imprisonment if convicted, he added.
The suspects were arrested after agreeing to pay $48,000 apiece for 11 Twystron tubes, a critical element of the AN-TPS-43E Tactical Radar Defense System, Stiffel said.
The system is a mobile radar unit that can be assembled in 30 minutes and transported entirely in a C-130 military cargo plane, said Stiffel, adding that it is currently being used by the U.S. Air Force, ″a few friendly nations,″ and Iran.
″It’s a central part of the system and their (Iran’s) tubes are starting to burn out,″ Stiffel said.
The system is useful in detecting low-flying, high-speed aircraft and is capable of spotting a plane at a distance of 265 miles, he said.
″It could be set up outside the city of Tehran and detect one of Iraq’s planes before it crossed the border,″ Stiffel said, referring to Iran’s war with its western neighbor.
″This is a critical issue in any kind of future development because theoretically we could be in a situation where we could be having these things used against us,″ he added.
The three also had agreed to the purchase of nearly $10 million worth of cathode ray tubes, airplane ejection seats and microcircuitry used in AWG 9 radar, a system currently employed aboard the F-14 fighter plane, Stiffel said.
There is an embargo against shipping any military goods to Iran, ″and this has no civilian applications,″ he said.
At several meetings between the undercover agent and the three suspects over a three-month period, the three described their plan to ship the Twystron tubes through Canada and on to Turkey before reaching Iran, Stiffel said.
At a meeting videotaped by customs officials at an undisclosed location, the three exchanged letters of credit with the undercover agent and altered the deal by saying they wanted the agent to fly them directly to Instanbul, Turkey via Luxembourg in a plane the agent said he had, Stiffel said.
The tubes were to be delivered this weekend, he said.