Germany has expanded an inquiry into how a crane and other parts for an Iranian nuclear power station were exported five years ago in defiance of a ban on nuclear trade.
Christoph Lange, a spokesman for prosecutors in Potsdam near Berlin, said Thursday the number of firms implicated in the inquiry had grown to 50, most of them based in the west of Germany.
The equipment was allegedly exported across the Polish border to Russia, which has a 1995 contract to repair and complete the damaged, German-built Iranian power reactor at Bushehr. Unlike Moscow, Berlin is strictly opposed to any nuclear exports to Iran.
However Lange said prosecutors believed only about 12 firms knowingly broke export restrictions. The rest were innocent, as they had only been been invited to tender for the work and had not won a sale, or had believed the parts were going to Russia only.
Lange said several of the business people had already been convicted and had received suspended jail terms or fines.
The orders may have totalled as much as 150 million euros (200 million dollars) in value.
Investigators discovered in 2004 that Russian engineers had bought in 2001 and 2002 a special crane to raise and lower the fuel rods in the Bushehr light-water reactor, which was designed by German engineering company Siemens before the Iranian revolution.
Nuclear experts say it is feasible to obtain weapons-grade radioactive material from such a reactor.
The Bushehr site, begun in 1974, was bombed and badly damaged during Iran’s war with Iraq. Because of the German design, standard Russian nuclear equipment would not fit existing reactor parts.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 12 Temmuz 2007, 17:14