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U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz Delivers Remarks at 4th Annual U.S. Export Control Conference
SEPTEMBER 20, 2012

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the fourth annual MA Counter-Proliferation Working Group conference. It is a honor to be with you all today.

In December 2007, almost five years ago, a multi-agency initiative was launched in this district to combat the growing national security threat posed by illegal exports of restricted U.S. military and dual-use technology to foreign nationals and terrorist organizations. Since 2007, our Counter-Proliferation Working Group, consisting of representatives of law enforcement and intelligence agencies, have been working together to coordinate investigations and share information regarding current threats and suspicious activities regarding the transfer of sensitive U.S. technology through illegal means.

The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is one of the greatest threats our country faces today. Never before has this threat been so serious! Iran is only months away from having the capability to build a nuclear weapon. In August, international nuclear inspectors reported that Iran had already installed three-quarters of the nuclear centrifuges it needs to complete a deep-underground site for the production of nuclear fuel, known as Fordow. Iran has now installed over 2,100 of the roughly 2,800 centrifuges destined for this site. To further its nuclear capabilities, Iran is aggressively seeking U.S. origin goods.

Preventing our adversaries such as Iran from obtaining U.S. export restricted technology is therefore one of our highest priorities. It is clear, however, that the government cannot guard our nation from this immense threat alone; we need the help of our business and academic partners to safeguard sensitive US technology.

America faces a growing number of espionage threats, ranging from the activities of foreign intelligence services and terrorist groups, to emerging cyber-threats, to increasingly sophisticated operations to obtain trade secrets and restricted U.S. military and dual-use technologies from America. Foreign states and terrorist organizations routinely seek arms, technology, and other materials from the United States to advance their technology capacity, weapons systems, and in some cases, weapons of mass destruction programs. For instance, in its 2012 national security report to Congress on the People’s Republic of China, the DOD indicated that “Chinese actors are the world’s most active and persistent perpetrators of economic espionage.” Further, DOD recently reported that “Chinese attempts to collect U.S. technological and economic information will continue at a high level and will represent a growing and persistent threat to U.S. economic security.” This probably does not come as any surprise to anyone sitting in this room. It simply reaffirms what we all know – China poses a serious national security threat to the United States. It is actively engaged in efforts to steal or illegally obtain U.S. technology through proliferation networks and front companies, computer hackers, and insiders.

Two thirds of the federal export prosecutions have involved end-users located in Iran or China. For instance, since 2007, more than 100 defendants have been charged with illegally exporting items having military applications to Iran. Prosecutions across the country, including several in Massachusetts, have highlighted Iran’s and China’s ability to successfully procure through illicit means U.S. stealth missile technology, military electronics used in phased array radar and electronic warfare, military aircraft components, satellite technology, pressure transducers and other dual use parts used in nuclear centrifuges, night vision equipment, electronics components capable of being used to construct Improvised Explosive Devices, and other restricted U.S. technology. Over the last few years, my office has successfully extradited and prosecuted a major Hong Kong procurer of military aircraft parts and sensitive U.S. technology for Iran, Chan Hok Shek a/k/a John Chan, and convicted several defendants involved in the illegal procurement of defense articles and restricted U.S. technology for China’s and Iran’s military. These cases were investigated by our law enforcement partners on the MA Counter-Proliferation Working Group.

Foreign governments are aggressive in their efforts to illegally acquire U.S. technology. With each passing year, our adversaries become more creative and sophisticated in their methods to steal our technology. For instance, they have been observed directly targeting U.S. firms; employing commercial firms in the U.S. and third countries to acquire U.S. technology; and recruiting students, professors, and scientists to engage in technology collection.

To respond to this national security threat, we need your help and partnership. Please report any suspicious contact or inquiries. Even one suspicious email or call might expose a procurement network operating in the United States. We ask for your help in keeping our country and our military troops safe.

The speakers today will be addressing a number of extremely important topics, including the importance of protecting US technology and technical data, how to comply with U.S. export laws, how to protect your technology, and the ongoing threat posed by cyberattacks. I hope you all enjoy the conference.


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