December 14, 2009 / 8:23 AM / 11 years ago

Taiwan probes reports of nuclear-linked sales to Iran

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan said on Monday it would investigate reports that local firms had sold nuclear technology to Iran, which the West suspects aims to build bombs.

The Economic Ministry’s Import and Export Administration pledged the investigation due in part to a report in the London Daily Telegraph that said Iran had set up a nuclear-equipment smuggling network using Taiwan companies, administration director Chen Ching-chih said.

Other intelligence also pointed to a Taiwan-Iran link, he said.

Iran obtained 100 transducers, tools that convert pressure into electrical signals, that were made in Europe and sold to a company in Taiwan, the Telegraph said, citing Western intelligence officials. It said Taiwan sold them onward to Iran.

“This is going to take some time. It’s a thorough investigation and very detailed,” Chen said. “We need to know after all which if any domestic firms are involved.”

Taiwan firms are not known globally for their nuclear technology, Chen said, and none had a permit to sell to Iran.

The Taiwan Defence Ministry, which can authorise military-related trade deals, said last week it had heard of no such transactions.

A government probe in March following intelligence from overseas cleared a Taiwan company said to be working with a foreign partner to offer nuclear technology to Iran, Chen said.

Iran needs up to 15 nuclear plants to generate electricity, its foreign minister said on Saturday, underlining Tehran’s determination to press ahead with a programme the West suspects is aimed at making bombs.

Reporting by Ralph Jennings; Editing by Nick Macfie

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