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New Yorker Linked to |Iranian Nuclear Program

BROOKLYN (CN) - A Queens man at the helm of a metallurgical company was collared by prosecutors for claims that he provided materials to Iran to help make nuclear weapons.

Erdal Kuyumcu was arrested Tuesday amid accusations he exported cobalt-nickel metallic powder from the U.S. to Iran by way of Turkey while working as the chief executive officer of Global Metallurgy LLC.

Feds say the 44-year-old from Woodside, N.Y., twice exported thousands of pounds of the compound, which is used in aerospace, missile production and nuclear applications.

"Exporting this specialized powder to Iran without a license from the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control is illegal," a government statement said.

Kuyumcu and others allegedly tried to hide their shipments by sending them first to Turkey and then to Iran, calling the country "neighbor" in coded communications to try to throw off anyone paying attention. Turkey shares a border with Iran.

If convicted, Kuyumcu faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

Kuyumcu "harmed our nation's security," Assistant U.S. Attorney General for National Security John Carlin said.

Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Robert Capers also issued a warning.

"Those who seek to evade the scrutiny of the regulatory agencies by operating in the shadows present a danger to our national scrutiny and our allies abroad," Capers said in a statement. "We will continue to use all our law enforcement and national security tools to hold such individuals and corporations accountable."

The Federal Bureau of Investigation reaffirmed its mission to keep "weapons of mass destruction ... from falling into the wrong hands, to protect national assets, and to strengthen the global threat picture," FBI assistant director-in-charge Diego Rodriguez said.

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