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German men sentenced for smuggling nuclear components to Iran

BERLIN (JTA) — Four Germans who smuggled products for use in Iran’s nuclear program were sentenced by a Hamburg court.

As the violations are believed to be the largest of the trade embargo with Iran, critics said the sentences — ranging from four years in prison to 18 months probation — are too lenient and called for repercussions for the German Office for Export Control.

According to the Hamburg Abendblatt newspaper, the four men procured reactor parts for Iran’s heavy water reactor in Arak, but claimed they were sending the goods to Turkey and Azerbaijan.

U.S. intelligence services reportedly informed German export authorities about the planned illegal shipments in 2009, but the shipments went ahead in 2010 and 2011.

Klaus Barthel, a member of the German parliament and economic policy speaker for the opposition Social Democratic Party, has blasted the federal government in recent weeks for refusing to answer questions about the lapse.

This week, the German nongovernmental organization Stop the Bomb criticized the lenient sentences and called on Germany to fire the director of the Federal Office for Export Control, Arnold Wallraff.

Despite all warnings, “they still gave their permission for the exports,” Stop the Bomb Executive Director Michael Spaney told JTA. “It is a major scandal.”

The Hamburg judge said the four men had not only violated the embargo but endangered German foreign relations.

“They knew exactly that this was business with a nuclear background,” he said.

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