According to the Wall Street Journal, Javedan Mehr Toos, an Iranian procurement firm linked to the Islamic Republic's enrichment program, has been able to acquire critical valves and vacuum gauges made by a French company formally owned by US industrial conglomerate Tyco International.
The International Atomic Energy Agency and Western authorities are still trying to determine exactly how the valves and gauges in question reached Iran.
Both French and US firms said they were unfamiliar with such a deal, but an email sent to the IAEA led to the conclusion that the parts were transferred to Iran via a Shanghai-based company.
An investigator familiar with the IAEA investigation said Iran has so far made about 10 known attempts to acquire the valves used in uranium enrichment, adding "some deliveries got through, others didn't."
Western officials said the firm – Javedan Mehr Toos – has been trying to procure nuclear materials on behalf of the Kalaye Electric Company, an Iranian firm involved in centrifuge research and development that is part of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, since last year.
The company also tried to acquire magnets used in centrifuges systems during uranium enrichment.
It is unknown how many valves Javedan Mehr Toos acquired or the extent to which they represent an important advance in Tehran's ultimate ability to enrich uranium, a key step in developing a nuclear weapon.