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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Tracking Number:  151080

Title:  "US Agents Arrest Buyers of Mideast-Bound Weapons." Customs Service Commissioner Carol Hallett said undercover agents arrested Claus Fuhler of Germany and Juan Martin Peche-Koesters of Spain for trying to ship anti-tank missiles and poison gas artillery shells to Iraq, Iran, and Libya. (900816)

Translated Title:  "Trafic D'Armes a Destination du Proche-Orient." (900816)
Date:  19900816


08/16/90 1Me Re U.S. AGENTS ARREST BUYERS OF MIDEAST-BOUND WEAPONS (Report on Customs Service announcement) (470)

Washington -- U.S. agents have arrested two Europeans trying to ship anti-tank missiles and poison gas artillery shells to Iraq, Iran and Libya.

Customs Service Commissioner Carol Hallett said undercover agents had been dealing secretly with the two for over a year after a tip from a U.S. manufacturer.

She told a news conference August 15 that the two men, Dr. Claus Fuhler of Germany and Juan Martin Peche-Koesters of Spain, were arrested August 13 in Orlando, Florida. They face up to ten years in prison and fines of one million dollars.

Hallett said they had planned to ship the weapons via Spain, disguised as "drilling equipment, machinery, and motors."

The two had originally negotiated to buy 10,000 TOW anti- tank missiles with a range of about three miles (five km), and 20,000 artillery shells -- half of them poison gas shells -- for 160 million dollars. When arrested, they were trying to obtain 200 missiles at a price of 3.7 million dollars.

The Florida indictment said the conspirators had also wanted to buy 106-mm guns, plus "nuclear waste, atomic garbage, and chemical garbage."

It is reportedly the largest operation of its kind since March, when agents blocked the shipment of nuclear-weapons triggers to Iraq.

According to the Customs Service, it is a violation of the U.S. Arms Export Control Act to export TOW missiles without Defense Department approval.

The Customs Service said that in 1989 alone it arrested 156 persons and seized over 1,400 items such as gyroscopes, laser guidance devices, computer systems, and military equipment, valued at more than 100 million dollars. It said 97 percent of its investigations have resulted in convictions.

Hallett praised the U.S. businessmen who alerted the government and cooperated in the undercover investigation. "Without the cooperation of industry," she said,

GE 2 POL410 "unscrupulous weapons profiteers may literally get away with murder."

Two co-conspirators reportedly remain at large in Europe -- D. Manuel Sunya-Blanco of Spain and a German citizen, Walter Seefeldt.

A week earlier, U.S. customs agents seized about eight million dollars worth of aircraft parts, missiles, jet fuel, radar equipment, satellite equipment, and computers bound for Iraq and Kuwait.

A customs official said the action was taken under President Bush's order prohibiting any import or export of goods to or from Iraq or Kuwait. The seizures were made in the ports of New York, New Jersey and Baltimore.

A spokesman said the Baltimore shipment, intended for Kuwait, consisted mostly of spare parts for U.S. F-18 fighter planes and Sidewinder and Hawk anti-aircraft missiles.

Meanwhile, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents sealed Iraqi Airline offices in New York, Detroit and Los Angeles. NNNN

File Identification:  08/16/90, PO-410; 08/16/90, NE-415; 08/16/90, EU-404; 08/17/90, NA-507; 08/17/90, AE-509; 08/17/90, AR-519; 08/17/90, EP-509; 08/21/90, AF-207
Product Name:  Wireless File
Product Code:  WF
Languages:  Arabic; French
Thematic Codes:  1NE
Target Areas:  EU; NE; AF; AR; EA
PDQ Text Link:  151080; 151547

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