Sunday, July 14 2024

Espionage with titanium from China seized at Pireaus Port destined for Iran

cargo ship

Two containers with titanium rods and high-tech lathes have been seized by Greek customs officers at the port of Piraeus. They were loaded at the port of Shanghai in China and, according to information from a foreign agency that reached the Money Laundering Authority, were destined for Iran.


It was the foreign intelligence services that alerted the Greek authorities to check the ship at Piraeus because they believe that the cargo, particularly the titanium found in the two containers, was destined for Iran, which would use these materials to develop its nuclear weapons programme.

According to the newspaper Kathimerini, which revealed the issue, indicative of the seriousness of the case is that the investigation into the seizure of the cargo and especially the titanium rods from the ship's containers in Piraeus involved - apart from customs officials - also members of the Army and the Fire Brigade, with special equipment to deal with nuclear and radiological threats.

It all started at the end of February when the ship was in Shanghai, China. Two containers were loaded there, bound for Istanbul. In the ship's customs documents, the consignor and consignee were said to be a large foreign logistics company with branches in China and Turkey.

The official documents gave a full description of the containers' cargo, which consisted of titanium bars, a high-tech lathe for processing titanium and containers of chemicals.

Titanium rods are classified as 'dual-use' materials, which can be used for commercial as well as military purposes, and their movement is controlled under the relevant legislation.

The ship sailed from China and came to Piraeus. According to the report, a foreign secret service informed the Money Laundering Authority and its head, Charalambos Vourliotis, who in turn informed the Greek authorities.

The initial tip-off was about a container. However, when the ship was checked at Piraeus by the Third Customs Office, two containers were found.

The cargo has been detained for the time being until investigations can establish what is going on. The consignee company in Istanbul, however, has already started legal action to have the cargo released.

Foreign intelligence agencies involved say that thorough investigations must be carried out because they believe the shipment was eventually going to Iran to be used for its nuclear arsenal.