Taiwanese-American jailed for aiding Chinese nuclear programme

WASHINGTON (AFP) - A US court on Thursday (Aug 31) sentenced an American citizen to two years in prison for conspiring in the unlawful development of nuclear power technology in China, the Justice Department announced.

Szuhsiung Ho, also known as Allen Ho, 66, a naturalised US citizen born in Taiwan, had pleaded guilty in January and was also ordered to serve a year of supervised release and pay a US$20,000 (S$27,128) fine.

A federal judge handed down the sentence at a US District Court in Tennessee.

"Today, Allen Ho is being held accountable for enlisting US-based nuclear experts to provide assistance in developing and producing special nuclear material in China for a Chinese state-owned nuclear power company," Dana Boente, the acting head of the department's National Security Division, said in a statement.

Ho had been indicted on the charges in April of last year, along with China General Nuclear Power Company, Ho's employer and China's largest nuclear power company, and Energy Technology International, a Delaware company owned by Ho.

Prosecutors said that between 1997 and 2016, Ho recruited US-based engineers to help the company design and manufacture reactor components quickly and at reduced costs - including advanced fuel assembly, in-core detector systems and processing of reactor-related computer codes.

He also arranged for US experts to provide technical assistance in producing what the Justice Department described as "special nuclear material" for the company in China.

All of this required prior authorisation from the Department of Energy, which Ho did not have.