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Japan police arrest 5 over nuclear devices-media

Written by: Staff

TOKYO, Aug 25 (Reuters) Tokyo police today arrested five executives from a Japanese company suspected of exporting devices that could be used in producing nuclear weapons, one of which was discovered in Libya, Japanese media said.

Mitutoyo Corp., which makes precision-measuring equipment, is suspected of exporting to Malaysia without a licence two devices that could be used in uranium enrichment, Kyodo news agency said.

Police have been investigating possible export routes from Japan after a Mitutoyo device was found at nuclear facilities in Libya inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency between December 2003 and March 2004, media reports have said this year.

Mitutoyo is also suspected of exporting similar equipment to Iran in 1997, and police have raided an Iranian trading firm in Tokyo in relation to the case, Kyodo said, citing police sources.

A Tokyo police spokesman said he had no information on the arrests, and no one answered the phone at Mitutoyo's head office, but television showed police officers entering the building.

Japanese police routinely decline to speak to foreign media.

The devices were ordered by Scomi Precision Engineering of Malaysia, Kyodo said.

Scomi Precision, formerly a unit of Malaysian oil services firm Scomi Group Bhd , a firm controlled by the son of Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, had been investigated by local police and cleared of any wrongdoing.

''The company has made a stand that it will not say anything,'' a Scomi Group spokeswoman told Reuters in Kuala Lumpur.

Mitutoyo, founded in 1934, has some 2,300 employees in Japan and 2,000 overseas.

The Japanese firm's Malaysian unit hasn't been investigated, said a company official at Mitutoyo (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd's head office outside Kuala Lumpur. He declined to be identified.

''No policeman came here. They only investigated Scomi.

According to the police report, Scomi was an innocent party,'' the official said, adding that Malaysia did not require import licences for Mitutoyo's precision-measuring machines.


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