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Salesman Accused of Illicit Atomic Transfer to China

The United States on Wednesday said it has formally accused a Chinese businessman of illicitly supplying clients in his home country with pressure transducers used in uranium enrichment centrifuges, Reuters reported (see GSN, May 8).

Authorities detained Qiang Hu in North Andover, Mass., and asserted the 47-year-old had conspired to violate U.S. trade regulations. Hu purportedly enabled delivery of thousands of the domestically manufactured barometric evaluation components to recipients in China without permission, the Justice Department said.

"Pressure transducers are export controlled because they are used in gas centrifuges to enrich uranium and produce weapons-grade uranium," the U.S. Attorney's Office in Massachusetts said in a written statement.

Hu was said to oversee transactions for MKS Instruments Shanghai, a branch of an industrial systems trade firm headquartered in Andover, Mass. He might have carried out the illicit deliveries using sales authorizations provided to MKS Instruments clients or to proxy firms.

MKS Instruments faces no suspicions of misconduct under the official probe, according to the Justice Department. Federal prosecutors in Boston have notified the company of the detention of one of its Shanghai personnel, the firm indicated, adding it was assisting U.S. officials (Lily Kuo, Reuters, May 23).

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