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Pakistani pleads guilty in U.S. nuclear export case

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Pakistani national pleaded guilty on Friday in a U.S. court to conspiring to commit export violations in a scheme to illegally transfer nuclear-related materials to his home country from the United States.

The Justice Department said Nadeem Akhtar, 46, who lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, a Washington suburb, entered the guilty plea at a court hearing in Baltimore, Maryland, as part of a deal with federal prosecutors.

Under his plea agreement, Akhtar, who owned a company called Computer Communication USA, admitted that he and his conspirators used the firm from 2005 through 2010 to obtain or attempt to get various nuclear-related devices and equipment.

The items, which included radiation detection devices, resins for coolant water purification and calibration and switching equipment, had a value of more than $400,000.

The Justice Department said Akhtar took direction from the owner of a trading company located in Karachi who had business relationships with Pakistani government entities.

It said Akhtar's co-conspirators included individuals in Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and New York associated with the owner of the Pakistani trading company.

Washington has long been concerned with Pakistan's nuclear program, which included the development of atomic weapons and added to regional tensions with its longtime rival, India.

Akhtar faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine at his sentencing scheduled on January 6.

(Reporting by James Vicini, Editing by Sandra Maler)

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