Page last updated at 00:17 GMT, Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Belgian pleads guilty to US-Iran arms sales charges

File photo of Iranian F-5 fighter jet, June 2009
Officials say Jacques Monsieur planned to export parts for F-5 fighter jets

An alleged Belgian arms dealer has pleaded guilty to conspiring to illegally export jet engines and parts from the US to Iran, officials say.

The suspect, Jacques Monsieur, now faces a maximum prison sentence of six years and a $250,000 (£150,000) fine.

Mr Monsieur, a resident of France, was arrested in August in New York.

Court documents say he is an experienced arms dealer who was actively seeking weapons for the government of Iran.

After his arrest Mr Monsieur was charged with violating the arms control act, smuggling, money-laundering and conspiracy.

Some of the charges can carry maximum sentences of 20 years in jail.

Officials said a sting operation revealed that he was trying to buy engines and other parts for F-5 fighter jets.

They alleged the defendant had wired $110,000 (£68,000) to a bank account in Alabama in July as payment for jet parts and had promised another $300,000 as down payment for two engines.

The parts could have been used as replacements in the aging military jets sold to Iran by the US before the 1979 Iranian revolution.

Under a trade embargo, the items cannot be exported to Iran without a license from the US government.

A co-defendant in the case, Iranian Dara Fotouhi, remains on the run.

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