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SEC Asked AMD, Intel About Possible Terrorism Ties

Publication Date: 
August 11, 2009
Source: 
The Wall Street Journal
Author: 
Benjamin Pimentel

Professor Joseph Grundfest talked to reporter Ben Pimentel about advanced chip technology falling into the hands of embargoed nations and an SEC inquiry on the matter:

The Securities and Exchange Commission recently quizzed Intel Corp. (INTC) and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD), the world's top computer chipmakers, on their ties to so-called "sponsors of terrorism," inquiries one security analyst described as puzzling.

The SEC in May sent a letter to AMD asking the chip giant to describe its business relationships with such countries as Iran, Syria and Sudan, according to an SEC filing made public Monday. The letter also noted that the SEC was "aware of a December 2007 news report that your processors have been used to build Iran's most powerful supercomputer."

That same month, the agency also sent a letter to AMD's arch-rival, Intel, asking about its ties with embargoed countries, including Cuba, according to another SEC filing released last week.

...

...it is now virtually impossible to totally keep advanced computer chip technology from falling into the hands of the embargoed nations, given how easy it is to get increasingly powerful PCs.

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Joseph Grundfest, a professor at Stanford Law School, echoed a similar view.

"Think about it this way," he said in an e-mail. "If Iran and North Korea can get their hands on the exotic machinery necessary to build highly sophisticated centrifuges, do you really think they can't get their hands on high-powered workstations and laptops?"