Customs intercepts illegal equipment heading for Iraq

The mass spectrometer device could have both civilian and military uses.

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File picture of Finnish Customs agent inspecting cargo / Credit: Tulli FB

Finnish Customs Tulli have revealed details of an illegal shipment they intercepted at Helsinki Airport, heading for Iraq.

In December 2017 customs officers inspected a consignment from a Finnish company with a destination of Iraq. They found a mass spectrometer, a device used to measure the masses of isotopes, molecules, and molecular fragments.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a mass spectrometer is a ‘dual use’ device, meaning it can be used for both civilian and military purposes.

Where did the device come from? 

The mass spectrometer was imported to Finland from the USA, where the supplier thought Finland was the final destination.

Exporting dual-use products from the USA to Europe doesn’t need any official license, but if those products are ultimately heading outside the EU a license is required either from Finnish authorities or from American authorities.

In the case of this shipment, there was no permissions to allow the mass spectrometer to be sent to Iraq.

Court case pending 

Customs officials began a preliminary investigation after confirmation from the Foreign Ministry that a mass spectrometer was a dual-use device.

Now, the investigation is in its final stage and expected to be sent to the Prosecutor’s Office in East Uusimaa for consideration of charges.

The CEO and members of the board of the Finnish company that brought in the mass spectrometer could face charges in this case.