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08 December 2014

Alleged procurer Sihai Cheng extradited to the US

An alleged illicit procurement agent who was the subject of a case study jointly conducted by Project Alpha and the Institute for Science and International Security has arrived in the United States this week after being extradited from the United Kingdom.

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Sihai Cheng, a Chinese national, is facing prosecution on numerous charges of conspiring to export, and exporting, highly sensitive dual-use goods to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Since 2005, Cheng helped to illegally supply thousands of dual-use parts with potential nuclear applications, including hundreds of US manufactured pressure transducers, to an Iranian compan. If found guilty of conspiracy to commit export violations by US courts, Cheng could face up to 20 years imprisonment.

Ian J. Stewart, Head of Project Alpha, attended Cheng’s extradition hearing earlier this year. At the trial it was argued that Cheng had committed export control violations, had assisted another state in developing nuclear weapons, and had committed an act of fraud against both transducer manufacturer MKS and relevant governmental authorities.

During that hearing, the charges were contested. Cheng’s counsel argued that the export of pressure transducers before 2009 was not illegal in the UK and that there are no grounds to conclude that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, despite UN sanctions and IAEA findings. These arguments highlight the challenges of enforcing export control laws, which were described as “turgid” during the hearing.

Further updates will be posted as they develop.

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