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April 21, 2007

Engineer Accused Of Smuggling Nuke-Control Software To Iran

His name is Pedro "Kid Irish" Goldfarb.

Or something like that.

Federal authorities are accusing a former engineer at Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station of illegally taking software codes to Iran and downloading details of control rooms, reactors and designs of the nation's largest nuclear plant.

Officers arrested Mohammad "Mo" Alavi, 49, in Los Angeles this month and charged him with one count of violating a trade embargo, which prohibits Americans from exporting goods and services to Iran.

Authorities say there is no evidence to suggest the use of the software was linked to terrorists or the Iranian government, which has clashed with the U.S. over attempts to develop a nuclear program.

"The investigation has not led us to believe this information was taken for the purpose of being used by a foreign government or terrorists to attack us," FBI spokeswoman Deborah McCarley told The Arizona Republic on Friday. "This does not appear to be terrorist-related."

Giving nuclear related software to an enemy regime which sponsors terrorism and is currently attempting to build terror nukes? Nah, not terrorist related at all.

I get the definition they're using, but it's a stingy definition, and they always trot out these unconnected-to-"terrorism" (as they define it) claims to downplay such incidents.

Officials with Arizona Public Service Co., which operates Palo Verde, said the software does not pose a security risk because it doesn't control any of the nuclear plant's operating systems and is mostly used to train employees.

Surely no terrorists would want to know how to control -- or sabotage -- an American nuclear plant, and surely Iran has no need of additional knowlege about the workings of a nuke.

...

Alavi, an Iranian native who has lived in the United States as a naturalized citizen since 1976, is being held without bail in California. Alavi's lawyer said Friday that he denies any wrongdoing.

"Mr. Alavi is a U.S. citizen. He respects the court process, and he asserts his innocence," said Milagros Cisneros of the Federal Defender's Office in Phoenix. She said the government's indictment of her client is "more smoke than fire."

She declined to address specific allegations in the indictment, including whether Alavi gained unauthorized access to software and bought a laptop computer weeks before he resigned and moved to Iran.

...

Wake said Alavi intended to immediately return to Iran to live.

"He has no intention of resuming residence in the United States," Wake said. "He is seeking employment in Iran, having invested $60,000 in a company with the expectation of getting employment. Alavi owns a house in Tehran valued at $150,000, in which relatives live."

Maximum sentence: 21 months.

And that's only on the table if they can prove the information fell "into the wrong hands."


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posted by Ace at 02:36 PM

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