Israeli Held in U.S. Over Nuclear Parts Sales to Pakistan

DENVER - An Israeli citizen was arrested at Denver International Airport on January 2 on suspicions he illegally shipped high-tech equipment to Pakistan that could detonate nuclear weapons.

Karni, who lives in South Africa, was accused of sending to Pakistan hundreds of triggered spark gaps - high-speed electrical switches capable of sending synchronized electronic pulses.

A U.S. Magistrate's Court on Tuesday ruled that 50-year-old Asher Karni can be released on $75,000 bail, but will remain in federal custody until at least Thursday while the government appeals the bond decision, said Jeff Dorschner, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Denver.

The spark gaps are so-called dual use technology. In the medical field, they are used to destroy kidney stones, and Karni said the parts were intended for a hospital in South Africa.

But the government argues the equipment, ordered from a New Jersey export company, was shipped to South Africa and then sent on to Pakistan using falsified documents.

Spark gaps are among a list of items that require a special export license if being shipped to certain countries, such as Pakistan, because they can be used to make nuclear weapons.

Karni was arrested in Colorado after arriving for a ski vacation.