Missile technology, fighter jet parts, night vision goggles and other US wartime equipment increasingly are being illegally smuggled to potential adversaries, such as China and Iran, the federal government said.
Last week, two men were arrested for allegedly trying to sell parts over the Internet for F-4 and F-14 fighter jets - which are only flown by Iran. The week before, two engineers were indicted on charges of stealing computer chip designs intended for the Chinese military.
Officials acknowledged Thursday that some smuggled equipment might be used for peaceful purposes, such as spark gaps that are used in medical machines to break up kidney stones but also can trigger nuclear detonations. Government lawyers and investigators described a growing number of unauthorized exports that could be dangerous if they end up in the hands of terrorists or hostile nations.
"The concept of terrorists, criminals or rogue nations obtaining weapons and other restricted technology is chilling," said Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Julie Myers, who oversees illegal export investigations as head of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.