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Four arrests as Iran 'weapons bid' foiled

Spain said yesterday it had dismantled a group it accused of plotting to send industrial equipment to Iran that could be used for weapon manufacture in violation of international sanctions.

The Spanish interior ministry and civil guard said in a joint statement they had arrested four people from the group, which is also accused of sharing technological information through a complex business network, including engineering projects, which may be used to build missiles.

The bust came as chief negotiators prepared for another round of talks in Vienna on Tehran's nuclear programme, part of efforts to reach an agreement by late July on resolving a decade-old dispute that has stirred fears of a Middle East war.

The four suspects - three Spaniards and one Iranian -were arrested in Barcelona, Tarragona and Palma de Mallorca, the Spanish statement said.

The operation, dubbed "Terracota", began last year after police registered the acquisition of two pieces of machinery from a British defence company.

"Officials confirm that the machinery was introduced illegally into Spain in an attempt to hide its real destination, and with the goal of waiting for the right moment to send to Iran," the statement said.

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