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German police raid suspected weapons spy ring

Written by: Staff

BERLIN, Feb 23 (Reuters) German police and customs officials investigating suspected espionage linked to missile technology raided 12 premises across four states today and arrested two people, the Federal Prosecutors' Office said.

The raids were in the western states of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia and Saarland and two people were taken into temporary custody in Frankfurt, the Karlsruhe-based office said.

''The accused are suspected of attempting, in the service of a foreign intelligence agency, to obtain parts for delivery systems and conventional weaponry for armed forces,'' the office said. Further details could not be released until investigations were complete, it added.

Last month, German federal prosecutors formally charged two German citizens with espionage for helping an unidentified foreign intelligence agency acquire dual use ''delivery system'' missile technology.

A German official familiar with the case, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the investigation, said the country involved was Iran. The federal prosecutor's office did not name the men or the German company they worked for.

Iran has a conventional missile programme, but denies both seeking to arm these weapons with nuclear warheads and wanting nuclear weapons at all.

China and Russia are currently trying to broker a diplomatic solution to a dispute over Iran's nuclear programme.

Neither wants an International Atomic Energy Agency board meeting on March 6 to precipitate moves in the United Nations Security Council for sanctions against Tehran.

Reuters PDS VP0340

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