How nuclear equipment reaches Iran...
Can sanctions ever work against Iran???
Early last year, a Chinese company placed an order with a Taiwanese agent for 108 nuclear-related pressure gauges. But something happened along the way. Paperwork was backdated. Plans were rerouted, orders reconfigured, shipping redirected.
And the gauges ended up in a very different place: Iran.
The story behind the gauges shows how Iran is finding its way around international sanctions meant to prevent it from getting equipment that can be used to make a nuclear bomb. At least half a dozen times in recent years, the Persian Gulf nation has tried to use third countries as transshipment points for obtaining controlled, nuclear-related equipment.
In the case of the pressure gauges, it succeeded. In the process, the Swiss manufacturer and the Swiss government were duped, a Chinese company went around its own government's prohibition on moving nuclear-related equipment to Iran, and Taiwanese authorities showed themselves unwilling or unable to get into step with the international community.
The deal was a huge victory for Tehran, which had been seeking the gauges for months, said nuclear proliferation expert David Albright, president of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security. It also reflected the uneven enforcement of international sanctions against Iran, at a time when the U.S. and other Western countries are pushing hard to expand them.
"The (Iranian) government looked everywhere -- Russia, Europe, the U.S., and they were being thwarted by the international community," Albright said. "It's really unfortunate they succeeded in using this Taiwan-China connection...This case is a wake up call of the importance of universal and timely application of sanctions on Iran."