A McGill University student was charged last week in the United States with the illegal export to Iran of laboratory equipment that could be used to build nuclear weapons.
Reza Sarangpour Kafrani, a 46-year-old Montrealer of Iranian descent, faces two counts of violating US international trade law. The latter imposes a ban on the export of certain equipment to Iran to limit its nuclear program.
The man, known as Reza Sarhang, will have to appear in this case for six other counts of money laundering, one can read in a document for the District of Columbia Federal Court dated July 30.
His partner, Syed Reza Miranzami, has also been charged in the case. According to the court, Mr. Reza Mirnzami holds dual Canadian and Iranian citizenship. He is also affiliated with Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, Iran, where he resides.
Reza Sarhanpour Kafarani, for his part, is a PhD student in the Department of Food Science and Agricultural Chemistry at McGill University. He is also the president of the Montreal “Avi Life Lab”, formerly known as “Prolife Global”.
According to court documents, the two men orchestrated their “plot” for several months in 2016.
At that time, according to the court, they bought three mass spectrometers and many other equipment from an American company for an amount equal to 139 thousand Canadian dollars.
“Chromatographic and spectroscopic instruments, such as some laboratory equipment purchased by Reza Sarhangpour Kfarani, are subject to control for non-proliferation reasons and therefore require an export license from the United States,” the court document said.
The problem is that the two men did not have this license. Thus, the two accused had circumvented the rules thanks to a ploy to send their goods to Iran.
Initially, the material was to be exported from the United States to Canada. Then the goods were sent to the United Arab Emirates. From there, the equipment made a final trip to Iran.
To date, none of these allegations have been substantiated in court. An indictment will be filed against Mr. Kafrany at a date to be determined. Under the above charges, Reza Sarhanpour Kfarani could face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Silence at McGill
When called about their student, McGill University said it had not been able to answer us for three days in a row and repeatedly ignored our calls.
“I’m still unable to answer your questions,” Cynthia Lee, deputy director of media relations, wrote briefly in an email yesterday.
Housahali S. Ramaswamy, a professor in McGill’s Department of Food Science and Agricultural Chemistry, confirms that Reza Sarhangpur Kvarani is his student.
I am not aware of his legal case. On the other hand, I can tell you that he is an excellent student and does well.”
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