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US President Barack Obama heaped praise on South Africa for taking the decision to become the first country to abandon a nuclear weapons program, as he met President Jacob Zuma.
Obama met Zuma amid a string of bilateral meetings with world leaders on the eve of a 47-nation nuclear security summit, designed to draw commitments from key powers to keep loose nuclear material out of the hands of extremist groups.
The Shah also signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with South Africa under which Iranian oil money financed the development of South African fuel enrichment technology using a novel "jet nozzle" process, in return for assured supplies of South African (and Namibian) enriched uranium.
Johan Andries Muller Meyer, a 53-year-old director of a manufacturing firm in the South African town of Vanderbiljpark, was arrested Thursday and charged Friday on three criminal counts of trafficking in some of the most sensitive nuclear equipment available.
Between November 2000 and November 2001, Meyer "unlawfully and deliberately had equipment that could be used to design, manufacture, develop, expose, and maintain the application of weapons of mass destruction," according to the South African charge sheet. The charges provide a detailed list of key nuclear weapons components that Meyer's company, Trade Fin, was alleged to be involved with, including: gas centrifuges that enrich uranium for bombs; feed and piping systems that deliver the uranium inside the centrifuges; and a Spanish-made machine that produces the main centrifuge component -- high-precision steel rotor tubes where the enriching takes place.
After months of complex investigations, the International Atomic Energy Agency and partners in about 20 countries are getting closer to understanding the scope of the black market run by Abdul Qadeer Khan, Pakistan's top nuclear scientist, according to government officials and experts involved with proliferation issues. The network is suspected of helping North Korea, Iran and Libya develop nuclear programs.