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US worried over Taiwan’s exports to Iran: WikiLeaks

DIPLOMATIC CABLES:US State Department cables expressed concern that a number of sophisticated machine tools may have been exported for use in Iran’s weapons programs

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff Reporter

Cables released by WikiLeaks showed Taiwanese companies involved in exports to help weapons development applications in Iran had prompted the US to request the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) to raise its concerns over Taiwan’s export controls between October 2008 and December 2009.

A cable dated Oct. 22, 2008, from the US Department of State to the AIT said the US recommended that Taiwan deny an export license request for an SV-41 computer numerically controlled (CNC) vertical machining center from the Taiwanese company Roundtop Machinery Industries to a Malaysian intermediary known as Era Machinery.

The US said the technology could be used in a missile or nuclear weapons program and that Roundtop Machinery Industries had falsely identified Era Machinery as the purchaser of machine tools that it intended to re-export from Malaysia to Iran.

Taiwan responded by adding Era Machinery to its exporter watch list in October 2008 after the case was brought to its attention by the US in June and reviewed at a US-Taiwan meeting in September that year, the cable showed.

Another cable dated March 23, 2009 from the US State Department to the AIT showed the US urged Taiwan to scrutinize machine-tool exports to Turkey.

The US said it had found several cases in which an intermediary named Ak Makina in Turkey was working to supply Iran’s Ardalan Machineries Company with a variety of machine tools produced by companies in Taiwan in late 2008 and early 2009.

One of the cases cited by the US in the cable was that in late December 2008, Ardalan Machineries was working with Ak Makina to procure a model XD32H lathe produced by the Taiwan subsidiary of South Korea’s Hanwha Machinery Co.

The machine was capable of performing five-axis machining operations and could be used to manufacture liquid rocket engine and missile guidance components, the US said.

Ardalan Machineries is associated with Iran’s Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group, the entity responsible for overseeing Iran’s liquid propellant ballistic missile program.

The cable said that Ardalan Machineries had worked with Ak Makina to purchase Taiwanese equipment also from Akira-Seiki, Vision Wide Technology Co and Taiwan’s Mori Seiki.

On May 4, 2009, the US Department of State provided more information to Taiwan via the AIT in another cable that said Iran’s Faratech CNC Milling Services was seeking to procure a computer numerically controlled rotary table from Tanshing Accurate Industrial Company. The rotary table could be used to upgrade a vertical machining center to perform five-axis machining operations and a machine with such capabilities would be suitable for use in a variety of applications required for the production of ballistic missile, nuclear and advanced conventional weapons components, the US said.

In a cable dated Dec. 3, 2009, the US Department of State once again raised its concerns over proliferation regarding exports by the Roundtop Machinery Industries.

Iran’s Machine Sazi Tabriz, the largest machine tool manufacturer in Iran and a likely supplier of imported machine tools for Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, requested that Roundtop send technicians to Iran to supply and replace parts for a double--column machining center previously supplied by Roundtop to Machine Sazi Tabriz, the cable said.

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