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5 Japanese charged with sales to Iran

This is an example of the grinder allegedly sold to Iran.
This is an example of the grinder allegedly sold to Iran.

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TOKYO, Japan (CNN) -- Tokyo police Thursday arrested the president of a Japanese manufacturing company and four employees on charges of exporting equipment to Iran that could be used for missile development, police said.

Police said they believe the company, Seishin Enterprise Co., exported two sets of industrial grinders to Iran in 1999 and 2000 without a license from Japan's trade and industrial ministry.

The police raided the company headquarters and several other locations Thursday.

The grinders -- called "Jetmill" -- are used to pulverize material to super-fine powder and can be used to make solid fuels for missiles.

Japanese law requires companies to secure government permission to export machines that can also be used for military purposes.

Seishin reportedly exported the same machine to North Korea in 1994, but Japanese authorities did not pursue the case because of the statute of limitations.

Both Iran and North Korea are suspected of having active nuclear weapons programs.

President George W. Bush in his 2002 State of the Union address named Iran, North Korea and Iraq as an "axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world."

That label and Bush's pledge to prevent "terrorists and regimes who seek chemical, biological or nuclear weapons from threatening the United States and the world," implied a sharp detour from the diplomatic course that the United States had been on with North Korea and Iran.

However, last month, White House officials said the Bush administration would use diplomacy to resolve matters related to terrorism and nuclear weapons programs in those two nations.

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