By: Jake Smith, Daily Caller News Foundation
The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced charges against several Chinese nationals Wednesday for illegally exporting American electronic equipment to Iran for the benefit of the country’s military.
For over a decade, four Chinese nationals have been allegedly smuggling U.S.-based electronic and component parts to Iran for the country’s production of military equipment, according to the DOJ. Iran is the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism and is under heavy economic sanctions by the U.S., including import and export regulations.
“Our indictment alleges a years-long, complex conspiracy to violate U.S. laws by procuring U.S. technology with military uses for entities in Iran who would do us harm – a serious offense that endangers our national security,” U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves said in a statement on Wednesday. “Our office, along with our federal law enforcement partners, will continue to turn over every stone to find those who break our laws and put us at risk.”
The four Chinese nationals allegedly began funneling equipment to Iran in 2007 to bolster the sanctioned country’s production of military equipment, such as drones and ballistic missile systems, according to the DOJ. The nationals allegedly smuggled the equipment to Iran through Chinese-based front companies and claimed that China was the final destination for the exports in order to evade legal scrutiny.
The Chinese nationals were charged with conspiracy and violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), as well as smuggling and submitting false export information, according to the DOJ. The individuals could face decades in prison if convicted.
The DOJ indictment represents a larger effort by the U.S. to crack down on Chinese threats on American soil. A China-based cyber attack operation codenamed “Volt Typhoon” that was targeting critical infrastructure was disrupted by the DOJ in December, the department said on Wednesday.
Beijing has made several efforts to steal American intellectual property, technology and information and bring it back to China and other foreign adversaries, FBI Director Chris Wray said in October, warning that there is “no greater threat to innovation than the Chinese government.” The FBI has seen a 1300% increase in investigations into the matter over the last several years.