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Thursday, May 6th, 2021

U.S. nuclear engineer pleads guilty to violation of Atomic Energy Act

Szuhsiung Ho, a naturalized U.S. citizen and nuclear engineer, recently pleaded guilty to conspiracy to unlawfully engage in the production or development of special nuclear materials outside of the United States, without the required authorization from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which was a direct violation of the Atomic Energy Act.

According to documents in the case, between 1997 and April 2016, Ho conspired with others to participate in the development of special nuclear material in China without authorization from the U.S. Secretary of Energy. The documents state that Ho assisted the China General Nuclear Power Company (CGNPC) in obtaining U.S.-based nuclear engineers to help with the designing and manufacturing of key components needed for nuclear reactors. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said that Ho sought technical assistance related to CGNPC’s Small Modular Reactor Program, Advanced Fuel Assembly Program, Fixed In-Core Detector System, and verification of nuclear reactor-related computer codes.

In addition to providing technical assistance for various CGNPC programs, Ho also facilitated the travel to China and payments to the U.S.-based experts in exchange for their services.

Sentencing has been scheduled for May 17 in the U.S. District Court of Knoxville, Tennessee. Ho faces a sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 fine, both of which are the maximum penalties set by Congress.

Ho’s case was investigated through a collaborative effort by the Federal Bureau of Investigation , the Tennessee Valley Authority-Office of the Inspector General, the National Nuclear Security Administration and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations unit.