(AP) BERLIN – The manager of a German company has been charged with trying to ship to China components that could have been used to help make nuclear weapons, prosecutors said Saturday.
The man, who wasn’t identified, is accused of violating German export laws by failing to secure authorization for the shipment, said Eckard Maak, a spokesman for prosecutors in the southwestern city of Stuttgart.
He declined to elaborate or to comment on a report in the newsmagazine Der Spiegel that German authorities suspect the shipment — officially addressed to China’s Shenyang Aircraft Corp. — was in fact destined for North Korea, currently under intense scrutiny over its nuclear program.
According to Der Spiegel, the shipment consisted of aluminum tubes, which could be built into centrifuges that can enrich uranium for use in nuclear weapons, and were loaded onto a French container ship that set out from Hamburg April 3.
The report said the shipment was seized nine days later following a request to intervene from the German government to authorities in Paris.
The manager, from Koenigsbronn-based Optronic GmbH, maintains that he tried to prevent the shipment, Der Spiegel added.