Case Study: Nuclear Traffickers Conspired to Procure High Speed Cameras

by David Albright and Andrea Stricker

May 19, 2016

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Sihai “Alex” Cheng of China worked closely with Tehran middleman, Seyed Abolfazl Shahab Jamili, to illicitly procure over a thousand pressure transducers for Iran’s gas centrifuge enrichment program between 2009 and 2012. Pressure transducers are export controlled goods in part because they measure the gas pressure inside a centrifuge cascade. Two e-mails obtained by our Institute from December 2009 and January 2010 show that Cheng and Jamili also cooperated on another effort to procure a Photron brand video camera, model Fastcam SA5, on behalf of Iran, apparently from a crooked agent who claimed to work at the Photron subsidiary in China – an agent who claimed to have also supplied North Korea. It should be noted that the agent may have been posing as a Photron sales agent. In any case, it would behoove Japanese investigators, where Photron is headquartered, to look into this alleged procurement by North Korea via an alleged Chinese agent of Photron and to determine whether this person made sales that would violate Japanese export controls. No evidence has emerged that Cheng and Jamili successfully procured a camera for Iran, but authorities should also investigate this possibility.

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