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Counter Proliferation Investigation Unit

Iranian arms procurement agent to be sentenced

WILMINGTON, Del. - David C. Weiss, U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware, together with John Morton, Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and James B. Burch, Deputy Inspector General for Investigations, Department of Defense Office of Inspector General, today announced the unsealing of indictments returned in Delaware and Massachusetts, and other documentation related to the prosecution of Iranian arms procurement agent Amir Hossein Ardebili.

In the indictments, Ardebili was charged with multiple violations of the Arms Export Control Act, International Emergency Economic Powers Act, smuggling, conspiracy and money laundering. The charges result from a three-year international undercover investigation which exposed Ardebili's role as a prolific arms acquisitions agent for the government of Iran. During the investigation, Ardebili negotiated the purchase and illegal export of a number of military components, including:

  • QRS-11 Gyro Chip Sensors. The QRS-11s are solid-state gyro chips that can be used in thousands of applications to include numerous advanced aircraft, missile, space and commercial applications. The BEI GyroChip Model QRS11 Quartz Rate Sensor, Model No. QRS-11-00300-100, is listed on the United States Munitions List in Category XII(d), and therefore requires a license from the Department of State for export.
  • MAPCGM0003 Phase Shifters. Phase shifters perform a key function in the active radiating elements of electronically steered antennae. They enable an antenna to point a radiated beam in specific directions. The six bit phase shifter sought by Ardebili is state of the art. Phase shifters have many applications including phased array radar, which is used in military target acquisition and missile guidance.
  • Digital Air Data Computer (DADC-107). The DADC-107 is a fully computerized Form/Fit/Function (FFF) replacement for the Central Air Data Computer installed on F-4 fighter aircraft. It calculates flight parameters including altitude, air speed, static pressure, mach number, and true angle of attack. Its high accuracy enhances weapons delivery system performance. The DADC-107 is a United States Munitions List Article under category VIII(h) and therefore requires a United States State Department license for export.

Ardebili's negotiations with undercover agents culminated in a face-to-face meeting in a Central Asian nation in October of 2007, after which Ardebili was arrested. Ardebili's laptop computer was seized at the time of his arrest and later searched pursuant to a federal search warrant. He was extradited to the United States in January 2008.

"America's most sensitive technology should never be allowed to pass into unintended hands. We work everyday to disrupt the illegal trade of sensitive technology and ICE continues to take aggressive action against those who violate our proliferation laws," said Assistant Secretary Morton of ICE.

"I applaud our law enforcement partners for their exceptional dedication in pursuing this major investigation," said U.S. Attorney David C. Weiss. "For years, the defendant was in the business of acquiring components, many with military applications, for the government of Iran. The government's investigation and prosecution has put the defendant out of business and removed this threat to our national security."

"The illegal export of U.S. military technology, particularly when placed in the hands of people suspected of providing support to our adversaries, is one of the most significant threats to our national security", said Deputy Inspector General Burch of the Department of Defense. "The charges unsealed today highlight the desire of elements not friendly to the United States to steal our most sensitive technology in an attempt to exploit the tactical and strategic advantages that our soldiers now hold. DCIS is committed to combating these threats in conjunction with our law enforcement partners and ensuring that DoD weapon systems and technologies are secure."

U.S. Attorney Weiss announced that Ardebili pled guilty to these indictments on May 19, 2008, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 14, 2009 at 9:30 a.m. before the Honorable Gregory M. Sleet.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David L. Hall.