News footage from a Las Vegas television station provided evidence that has placed in doubt the future of a $92 million loan to bring a Nevada rocket-fuel chemical manufacturer to Utah.
Some 286,000 pounds of ammonium perchlorate produced by Pacific Engineering and Production Co., Henderson, Nev., was seized in Rotterdam in February 1988 from a freighter bound for Iran.In May of last year, the PEPCON plant - one of two U.S. suppliers of the key solid rocket fuel ingredient - blew up. The company, with the active encouragement of Utah officials, decided to rebuild near Cedar City.
The company was to receive special amortization treatment from the federal government on its bank loan to build the Utah plant.
Reporter Cathy Hanson, of KTNV-TV, said that after the PEPCON explosion she got a tip from a worker that the company had been shipping its product to Iran, and in June she shot pictures of barrels of ammonium perchlorate on the PEPCON premises.
The barrels were labeled with the name of a West German chemical company, DA Dampf, Hanson told the Deseret News.
The chemical seized in Rotterdam had been sold by PEPCON to a Tampa exporting company, which sold it to a Swiss company, which then sold it to DA Dampf. The shipment then turned up in Rotterdam with a bill of lading addressed to Iran's Revolutionary Guard, according to the New York Times News Service.
Hanson said she interviewed PEPCON's president, who denied any knowledge that his company's chemicals had been bound for DA Dampf. When confronted with the footage of the labeled barrels, she said, he told her they may have been supplies shipped back to Nevada by the export company.
The Deseret News was unable to reach the PEPCON president for comment Friday.
Hanson said she called an aide to Rep. Robert A. Roe, D-N.J., chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, to check on whether DA Dampf was a known supplier of chemicals to the Middle East.
She subsequently was asked to furnish a copy of her footage for viewing by Roe and National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, after which, she said, Scowcroft called for a freeze on action on the loan to PEPCON.