Rimz of Mass Destruction

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Aw, yeah. Wheels and centrifuges — two things that spin. I’ll bet you never made this connection before, but it’s just one anecdote short of a certified “trend story”:http://www.slate.com/default.aspx?id=3944&qt=trend+story&qp=26551&sort=d;1,r;1&rowstart=1&rows=25.

Anecdote #1: Horkos

Earlier this month, the (Tokyo) Metropolitan Police Department teamed up with their Hiroshima counterparts — yes, Hiroshima — to “take down”:http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/newsarticle.aspx?id=24770 four current and former employees of the “Horkos Corp.”:http://www.horkos.co.jp/english/ It seems they had been selling advanced “machining centers”:http://www.horkos.co.jp/english/products/mc/ to Chinese and South Korean auto makers, while misrepresenting the capabilities of the devices to Japan’s “export control authorities”:http://www.meti.go.jp/policy/anpo/kanri/top-page/top/anpo-top-page-english.htm.

Word has it that some of the same devices used to make precision auto parts can be used to make precision uranium centrifuge parts. And they sold what sounds like “a lot of them”:http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/newsarticle.aspx?id=24770:

The men are specifically accused of falsifying export customs declarations in November 2004 and September 2006 for 16 machining centres shipped to China and South Korea, according to a _Mainichi Daily_ report. The newspaper added that Horkos is thought to have exported some 600 machining centres to China and South Korea since 2002.

Note that this is a new development in an “old”:http://www.armscontrolwonk.com/1973/japnese-bust-export-violator “story”:http://www.thebulletin.org/web-edition/features/japans-struggle-to-limit-illegal-dual-use-exports.

(Purely for your edification, here’s a “faintly obscene animation of a flow-forming machine at work”:http://www.flowform.com/flowforming/methods_forward_flowforming.php. For the record, I’m not sure whether this is actually the type of device at issue in the Horkos case, but I’ll do what it takes to hold your attention.)

Anecdote #2: Iran Khodro

The “Iran Khodro Industrial Group”:http://www.ikco.com/default.aspx is Iran’s biggest car maker, until recently the manufacturer of the “iconic”:http://www.iranian.com/Arts/2003/August/Amir/2.html “Paykan”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/4551841.stm. They make Peugeots on license. Reportedly “in response to a recent government mandate”:http://www.ameinfo.com/125595.html, Iran Khodro has leapt to the very frontiers of global automotive technology, producing new “gasoline-compressed natural gas (CNG) hybrid vehicles”:http://www.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=188809.

One variety was “exhibited in Geneva”:http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/05/iranian-automaker-bets-on-natural-gas/ earlier this month.

But as it turns out, those CNG tanks are made from carbon fiber, which is “illegal to export to Iran”:http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20090312_8404.php. It’s the same stuff that “Iran’s new-model centrifuge rotors”:http://www.armscontrolwonk.com/1851/iran-centrifuge-components are made from. Oops. Or Hmm.

[Update: Paul is “on top of the story”:http://www.totalwonkerr.net/1913/new-iranian-centrifuges-to-be-installed.]

(Incidentally, “this AP item”:http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iijfYgMUu7W_-ZKg8BjH5QNTww5QD96S1JA80 seems to contain the first mention anywhere of the IR-4 centrifuge.)

“M. Collin”:http://www.cpoagenda.com/latest-news/peugeot-ceo/, appelez votre bureau.

(Hey, it turns out that the Iraqi EMIS test facility was disguised as a “military automotive repair shop”:http://books.google.com/books?id=K_bDzw0Qb0UC&pg=PA56&lpg=PA56&dq=centrifuge+enrichment+automotive&source=bl&ots=1RrWIWlLDi&sig=voJcd4YoHQMlnDfUK_5qyvAeCnY&hl=en&ei=NQ_ASfuvFcGltgfQ36FN&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=5&ct=result. Well, close, but not quite the trifecta I was hoping for.)

Enough already. It’s “musical bonus”:http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1algt_no-particular-place-to-go_fun time!

(You were expecting the Gary Numan song, weren’t you? Don’t worry, I’ve got “that, too”:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ldyx3KHOFXw.)

Update: It turns out that this is “old news”:http://www.totalwonkerr.net/2003/old-news.

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