Page last updated at 04:56 GMT, Thursday, 12 June 2008 05:56 UK

Japan firms raided in nuclear row

By Chris Hogg
BBC News, Tokyo


Police in Japan have raided two companies after vacuum pumps they manufactured and sold were found in a North Korean nuclear facility.

They searched a manufacturing company in Kanagawa prefecture, south of Tokyo, and a trading company in the capital.

The police acted on a tip-off from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which discovered the pumps during an investigation last year.

They suspect the pumps were used in a device which enriched uranium.

The police believe they were transported from Japan to North Korea via Taiwan in 2003.

The two companies are suspected of violating the foreign trade law.

The manufacturer refused to comment on the raids, while the trading firm said it had no knowledge that the pump would be sent to North Korea.

Under a deal agreed last year, North Korea agreed to disable its nuclear facilities in exchange for political concessions and large amounts of oil.

It began dismantling its main plutonium producing facilities in November but the process has stalled because of a dispute over whether it has produced a full declaration of all its nuclear programmes.

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