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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Germany Investigates Iran Sales

BERLIN -- Seven people, most of them Russians, are being investigated over exports of German equipment that could be useful to Iran's nuclear program, prosecutors said Monday.

Benedikt Welfens, spokesman for the prosecutors' office in Potsdam, near Berlin, said investigators wanted to question the seven after seizing cash, equipment and records in raids of 41 sites across Germany last week.

He said they were not under arrest but declined to comment on their whereabouts.

Welfens said German-made electronic components, transformers and special cables and pumps worth 2 million to 3 million euros ($2.4 million to $3.6 million) were found to have been delivered to Iran via Russia.

"It's not that much, but it may rise. We have to look at the information and data that we've found," he said.

Welfens said the equipment could have been useful "on the margins" of Iran's nuclear program, which the United States believes is a front for developing atomic weapons.

Welfens said the shipments in question were sent to Russia by up to six small specialist German firms, which he did not identify.

They would be illegal only if the companies knew that the goods were being sent on to Iran. "We believe one of the firms had knowledge of that," he said.

The transactions dated from 2004 and 2005 and orders were placed by a front company based in Berlin.

Prosecutors plan to contact Russian authorities in the next stage of their probe.