- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 8, 2004

PRETORIA — South Africa dropped charges against a factory owner suspected of selling nuclear equipment to rogue states as part of a plea bargain in which the man agreed to “tell all,” a senior official said yesterday.

“He’s squealing and willing to do a deal to tell us, the Americans and the Europeans, all we want to know,” a senior South African official told The Washington Times on the condition of anonymity.

Johan Meyer, 53, was arrested last week at his Tradefin Engineering company in Vanderbijlpark and charged with violating South Africa’s weapons proliferation laws.

The charges included trafficking in highly sensitive nuclear equipment. At the time of his arrest, 11 containers of material useful for enriching uranium were carted away from his factory in an industrial town on the Vaal River, 85 miles south of the capital, Pretoria, police said.

His detention came amid an international investigation of the nuclear ring run by Abdul Qadeer Khan, who masterminded Pakistan’s nuclear bomb and secretly set up a worldwide nuclear market that supplied Libya, Iran, North Korea and others with equipment and instructions needed to build atom bombs.

Mr. Meyer is believed to have been involved in a secretive South African government program to develop nuclear weapons.

South Africa revealed its program and allowed the International Atomic Energy Agency to supervise its dismantling in 1994 — a decision made as the white regime was about to hand over power to majority rule.

Mr. Meyer’s arrest was part of a worldwide operation that has netted suspects in Germany, Switzerland and the United States.

A South African-based Israeli businessman, Asher Karni, was arrested and charged in the United States with illegally exporting material that could have been used as electronic bomb triggers from Cape Town to Pakistan.

Mr. Khan, in exchange for immunity from prosecution in Pakistan, confessed to helping a number of countries, including Libya and Iran, in their attempts to build nuclear weapons.

Libya disclosed its nuclear program in 2003 and it has agreed to disarm.

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