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Romania court approves extradition of ex-defense official to US

The Bucharest Appeals Court [official website, in Romanian] on Tuesday ruled that a former Romanian defense ministry official can be extradited to the US on charges of trying to illegally export military equipment to Iran. Intelligence officials from Romania and the US coordinated their investigations [WP report] in the case. According to Iran Watch [advocacy website], a nuclear weapon watchdog group, Aurel Fratila was indicted [Iran Watch backgrounder] in the US District Court for the Southern District of California [official website] in 2006 for allegedly conspiring to ship sensitive military equipment without US licenses to Romania with the ultimate goal of transporting the material to Iran.

Iran's nuclear program continues to raise international concern. In August UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] expressed concern [JURIST report] about Iran's human rights conditions and nuclear program during a visit to Tehran. Earlier that month US President Barack Obama announced two new economic sanctions [JURIST report] on Iran's oil exports that aim to cut the country's financial transactions with the Chinese and Iraqi banks allegedly doing business with Tehran. In the first of these orders Obama explained that the penalties were imposed to prevent funding for "Iran's illicit proliferation activities." In March, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) upheld a lower court decision [JURIST report] that a UK subsidiary of Bank Melli Iran (BMI) can be included in a list of entities engaged in nuclear proliferation. A 2007 UN Security Council Resolution [Resolution 1337 text] requires member states to freeze the assets, funds and economic resources of entities and their subsidiaries that are determined to be "engaged in, directly associated with or providing support for Iran's proliferation sensitive nuclear activities or the development of nuclear weapon delivery systems."

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