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Spain Raids Company Suspected of Smuggling Nuclear Supplies to Iran

BUSHEHR, IRAN - AUGUST 21:  This handout image supplied by the IIPA (Iran International Photo Agency) shows a view of the reactor building at the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant as the first fuel is loaded, on August 21, 2010 in Bushehr, southern Iran.  The Russiian built and operated nuclear power station has taken 35 years to build due to a series of sanctions imposed by the United Nations. The move has satisfied International concerns that Iran were intending to produce a nuclear weapon, but the facility's uranium fuel will fall well below the enrichment level needed for weapons-grade uranium. The plant is likely to begin electrictity production in a month. (Photo by IIPA via Getty Images)

BUSHEHR, IRAN - AUGUST 21: This handout image supplied by the IIPA (Iran International Photo Agency) shows a view of the reactor building at the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant as the first fuel is loaded, on August 21, 2010 in Bushehr, southern Iran. The Russiian built and operated nuclear power station has taken 35 years to build due to a series of sanctions imposed by the United Nations. The move has satisfied International concerns that Iran were intending to produce a nuclear weapon, but the facility's uranium fuel will fall well below the enrichment level needed for weapons-grade uranium. The plant is likely to begin electrictity production in a month. (Photo by IIPA via Getty Images)  (2010 IIPA)

Spanish authorities raided a company they suspect was exporting machinery to Iran that could be used in Tehran's nuclear program.

The Finance Ministry said in a statement Monday that the company is suspected of sending to Iran, via Turkey, machines for the manufacture of turbine propellers used in energy generation.

According to Spanish daily El Mundo, the company based in Durango, in the northern province of Vizcaya, used a front company in Istanbul. The Tax Office said in a release that those responsible for the plot could face prison sentences and fines of up to six million euros.

In September 2009, the company had been refused a license to export to Iran seven machines for the manufacture of turbine blades commonly used in power generation plants. To circumvent this initial veto, El Mundo reports, the company designed a strategy in collusion with an intermediary Iranian company created in Turkey specifically for this purpose. Formally, then, the final destination of the machinery was Istanbul. However, once in Istanbul the cargo was immediately sent to Tehran, its true destiny.

The European Union and the United States have imposed sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program. They have targeted suspected export control violators dealing in so-called dual-use technology, which can have both civilian and military applications.

Tehran says its nuclear program is aimed at energy production but many Western countries fear it is a cover for weapons development.

With reporting by The Associated Press.

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