Page last updated at 10:58 GMT, Thursday, 31 July 2008 11:58 UK

Japan raid over 'nuclear exports'


Police in Japan have raided the premises of a company suspected of illegally exporting machinery that could be used to make nuclear weapons.

Officers targeted the headquarters of Horkos Corp and several related sites in the southern city of Fukuyama.

The company is accused of exporting tools that could be used in enriching uranium without government permission.

Police say the equipment, which was sent to South Korea, could have been sold to North Korea or the Middle East.

The tools are normally used to manufacture automotive components, but they can be modified to produce the centrifuges used to enrich uranium.

Export of these items requires approval from the government, but Horkos is accused of falsely labelling items to avoid the need for permission.

Police suspect a batch of tools sent to South Korea in 2004 could then have been resold to a country for use in nuclear weapons' development, Kyodo news agency said.

Japanese police have carried out similar raids in the past.

Last year four former executives of precision equipment maker Mitutoyo were convicted of illegally exporting devices that could be used in nuclear weapons' production - one of which was reportedly found in Libya.

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