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Chinese Employee At U.S. Firm Charged With Exporting Material Used to Enrich Uranium

"They are used in gas centrifuges to enrich uranium and produce weapons-grade uranium."

A Chinese employee of MKS Instruments, Inc. in Andover, Mass. has been charged in federal court with attempting to illegally export $6.5 million worth of equipment that can be used to enrich and develop weapons-grade uranium into China. In short, tools used for WMDs.

Qiang "Johnson" Hu, 47, appeared in federal court in Boston yesterday for an initial hearing and heard the charges brought against him, The Eagle Tribune reports. He is a rep from MKS Instruments' Shanghai sales office. MKS has corporate offices all over the world including China, Germany and England, the company's website says.

Hu is accused of exporting pressure-measuring sensors, commonly known as "pressure transducers." These sensors are used for a variety of other commercial products besides weapons-grade uranium, such as high-brightness LEDs and medical sterilizers, according to the MKS website.

The Eagle Tribune has the rest:

His charges are officially listed as "willful conspire to violate Export Administration Regulations."

Pressure transducers are export-controlled because "they are used in gas centrifuges to enrich uranium and produce weapons-grade uranium," according to a court affidavit filed by Catherine Donovan, a special agent with the U.S. Department of Commerce in Boston.

Officials at the Department of Commerce and U.S. Attorney's Office did not return phone calls and an e-mail from The Eagle-Tribune seeking comment. Hu has been a sales manager at MKS Instruments Shanghai, Ltd., a subsidiary of MKS, since 2008, according to court documents.

The alleged illegal exporting began at a time unknown, "but not later than March 2007 and continuing to present," according to the documents.

According to the documents, Hu and an unnamed "co-conspirator" fraudulently obtained export licenses for legitimate MKS business customers, but instead delivered the pressure transducers to third-party customers that lacked such licenses.

MKS said in a statement e-mailed to The Blaze that the company is "cooperating with the investigation and U.S. government authorities have made it clear that MKS is not a target of the investigation."

"MKS is conducting its own investigation into these matters and the individual's suspected violation of corporate policies," the statement said. "While MKS does not expect any of the alleged violations to have a material adverse effect upon its business, the disruption caused by this matter could adversely affect its Shanghai sales office."

A conviction could mean up to 20 years in prison for Hu and his unnamed "co-conspirator."

This is a breaking story. Updates will be added.

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