A probe into a global nuclear smuggling ring widened Thursday as two Germans were charged by a South African court with illegally exporting equipment to enrich uranium, a key ingredient for making bombs. \nGerhard Wisser, 66, and Daniel Geiges, 65, living permanently in South Africa, appeared before a local court on four counts of contravening the Nuclear Energy Act and a law banning the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. \nTheir arrests followed that of a South African businessman over his alleged involvement in a nuclear smuggling network thought to be linked to Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan and aimed at helping Libya develop atomic weapons. \nThe two Germans "unlawfully and intentionally imported, held in transit and exported goods which may contribute to the design, development, production, deployment, maintenance or use of weapons of mass destruction without a permit," the charge sheet said. \nThe three other charges relate to the possession, manufacture and export of equipment for the enrichment of uranium. \nThe case against the two men was postponed in the Vanderbijlpark regional court, 80km south of Johannesburg, for a formal bail application on Tuesday. The two men were not asked to plead. \nLast Thursday, South African businessman Johan Meyer was arrested for his alleged links to the international network and charged with possessing sensitive nuclear-related equipment and clandestinely importing and exporting nuclear material. \nBut the charges were abruptly dropped on Wednesday, and the Germans were arrested the same day, fuelling speculation that the 53-year-old Meyer had agreed to cooperate with the state in exchange for immunity. \nLawyer Kevin Cross, who represents Geiges, told reporters his client "vehemently denies the charges against him." \n"It came as a complete shock to my client and we are going to fight this tooth and nail," he said. \nCross said Geiges was an engineer at a firm north of Johannesburg. \nAppearing for Wisser, lawyer Anant Choudree said they were talking to police investigators to find out the exact nature of the charges. \n"At this stage, we do not know what the exact charges are and need to consult with our client." \nThe two men are to remain in police custody pending further hearings. \nGerman prosecutors detained Wisser last month on suspicion of having served as an intermediary in 2001 between the international network and a South African company designated to deliver equipment such as centrifuge pipes used in the enrichment of uranium to Libya. \nKhan admitted in February to helping Libya, Iran and North Korea develop their weapons programs and he was later granted a pardon from President Pervez Musharraf. \nLibya announced late last year that it was abandoning attempts to develop nuclear, biological and chemical weapons after months of secret negotiations with London and Washington.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong (FCC) yesterday said that reporters in the territory were experiencing “highly unusual” visas problems, and called on the US and China to stop using the media as a political weapon. Journalists have been caught up in US-China tensions, with both sides placing limits or expelling reporters from their territories in the past few months. Now the spat is filtering into Hong Kong, a regional press hub nominally in charge of its own immigration policies. The FCC said in a statement that multiple media firms had reported delays getting visas in recent months. “The delays have affected journalists