Marin executives indicted in nuclear testing sale

The Associated Press
Thursday August 30, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal grand jury has indicted three executives of a Marin County electronics firm, accusing them of illegally selling gear to India that could be used to make nuclear weapons, prosecutors said Wednesday. 

The indictment charges that the executives of Berkeley Nucleonics Corp. of San Rafael conspired to sale and sold nuclear pulse generators to India without the federal government’s permission between 1999 and 2000. The generators emit electrical pulses and can be used to calibrate radar and nuclear instruments with military applications. 

The firm is among a growing number of companies under fire for exporting to blacklisted countries.  

The list of export violators in recent years includes big-named companies like IBM, Dell Computers, Compaq, Gateway and Alcoa. 

Not long ago, export sanctions applied to just a small number of countries, but the list has broadened during the past five years to include 50 countries. India and Pakistan were added after they conducted nuclear tests in 1998. 

Named in the Marin County indictment were company president David Brown, marketing director Richard Hamilton and Vincent Delfino, Berkeley Nucleonics’ former operation manager. 

In an interview, Hamilton said the company did not know about the restrictions on exports to India, which were imposed during the Clinton administration when India and Pakistan refused to agree to nonproliferation treaties. 

“We did not have the resources to know about it at the time,” Hamilton said. He said the company had a history of selling such devices to India. 

Neither Brown nor Delfino were available for comment.  

A court appearance has not been set, said Matthew Jacobs, a Justice Department spokesman, who declined further comment. 

The government began building its case in 1999 after agents of the Commerce Office of Export Enforcement posed as exporters in a sting operation, according to court documents. 

The indictment accuses the company of shipping the devices to India’s Bhaba Atomic Research Center and the Nuclear Power Corp., both divisions of India’s Department of Atomic Energy.