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    Uzbek man accused of trying to smuggle WMD goods to Iran

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    A court in the Astrakhan Region, south Russia, will consider a criminal case against an Uzbek man accused of trying to smuggle items into Iran used in the production of weapons of mass destruction, Russian prosecutors said.

    MOSCOW, July 17 (RIA Novosti) - A court in the Astrakhan Region, south Russia, will consider a criminal case against an Uzbek man accused of trying to smuggle items into Iran used in the production of weapons of mass destruction, Russian prosecutors said.

    Investigators said that in July 2007 businessman Anar Godzhayev, 39, knowingly failed to declare the metallic substances, made from tantalum, in a customs declaration form in contravention of customs regulations. Godzhayev is currently being held in custody.

    "Godzhayev, while aware the items for delivery contained strategic raw materials, failed to mention this in the customs declaration form, and described the goods as alumina-cobalt-molybdenum catalysts which were not subject to any special procedures. The goods were put into a container for shipping aboard the Ishim vessel," the Prosecutor General's office said.

    Godzhayev, the founder of AGS Impeks, a company involved in the supply of goods to Iran since February 2006, had been asked by an acquaintance to deliver a one-ton consignment of goods made from tantalum, tantalum sheeting and foil to the Islamic Republic.

    Customs officials established that the container's content did not match the declared goods, and a further examination confirmed that the materials could be used to produce weapons of mass destruction. Regulations on the export of such goods are contained in special guidelines.

    Iran is currently under three sets of relatively mild UN Security Council sanctions for defying demands to halt uranium enrichment, which it says it needs purely for electricity generation despite Western accusations that the program is geared toward weapon production.

    Tantalum is used in electric components and also to produce superalloys used in aircraft engine parts, nuclear reactors, missile components and chemical equipment.

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