August 25, 2006

Japan police arrest 5 over nuclear devices

TOKYO (Reuters) - Tokyo police on Friday arrested
executives from a Japanese company suspected of exporting
devices that could be used in producing nuclear weapons, one of
which was discovered in Libya.

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

Mitutoyo said its president was among the five executives
arrested on Friday.

"I believe we have abided by laws and still believe we do,
so it is regrettable that such a situation has occurred," a
company official 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.

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 has not 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.