BERLIN – Germany plans to turn the economic screws on trade with Tehran, Foreign
Minister Guido Westerwelle and Economics Minister Phillip Rösler announced since
the International Atomic Energy Agency report last week that detailed Iran’s
drive to obtain nuclear weapons.
“Sanctions are unavoidable and harsh
sanctions are unavoidable too if Iran continues refusing to work with the IAEA,”
Westerwelle said on Monday at the EU foreign ministers meeting in
Powers make 'progress' on IAEA Iran resolution
Rösler said he favors boycott measures against Iran, with the
caveat that “the fulfillment of previously authorized contracts are not overly
affected,” according to a report in this week’s Der Spiegel
“This month an Israeli delegation will travel to Berlin to make
proposals on how the sanctions could be further tightened. The Israelis are
expected to deliver a list of names that includes companies and individuals who
they say help prop up the Iranian regime,” Der Spiegel
Germany’s annual trade with the Islamic Republic hovers at
around 4 billion euros, making it Iran’s No. 1 EU trade partner.
top-level representative from Germany’s Federal Office of Economics and Export
Control (BAFA) told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday by e-mail that the agency
would soon issue new statistics on deliveries of dual-use goods to Iran.
Merchandise tagged as dual-use can be used for both military and civilian
purposes. Germany has provided high levels of dual-use goods to Iran over the
Westerwelle and Rösler are members of the Free Democratic Party,
whose small- and medium-business constituency, including the party’s foreign
policy spokesman Rainer Stinner, has strongly resisted crippling sanctions on
Iranian trade. Many FDP supporters are involved in the German- Iranian business
Westerwelle is looking into travel bans for more Iranian
officials and freezing bank accounts, Der Spiegel reported.
minister was engulfed in a scandal earlier this year because his ministry –
apparently with his approval – green-lighted the transfer of 1.5b. euros in
payments for crude oil to Iran’s regime via the European-Iranian Trade Bank and
Lax enforcement of US, UN and EU sanctions targeting Iran
has sparked irritation from Washington and Jerusalem about Germany’s lack of
political will to pressure Tehran to suspend its nuclear weapons and ballistic
“The forced closure of the Hamburg-based European-
Iranian Trade Bank (EIHB) last spring was also the result of dossiers that were
made available to the German government by Israeli, American and British
intelligence agencies,” Der Spiegel wrote.
Dr. Matthias Küntzel, a
Hamburg-based expert on German-Iranian economic relations and a critic of the
Merkel administration’s failure to crackdown on trade with the Islamic Republic,
told the Post, “Germany should either openly admit that it has resigned itself
to living with an Iranian bomb, or do what is necessary to prevent an atomic
bomb in the hands of religious fanatics.”
Küntzel has argued for a potent
embargo against Iran and the closure of the German- Iranian Chamber of Commerce.
In a Wall Street Journal article, he wrote that Iran’s violation of the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty warrants, according to Chapter VII, Article 41, of the
UN Charter – the “complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of
rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio and other means of communication, and
the severance of diplomatic relations.”
Germany has long been viewed as
the weakest European link in the anti-Iranian regime sanctions chain. The Merkel
administration has showed no appetite to sanction the Iranian Revolutionary
Guard Corps or Iran’s Central Bank. Both entities are deeply immersed in Iran’s
nuclear program and finance its foreign terror proxies – Hamas in the Gaza Strip
and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Anti-Iranian regime activists have protested
against forums and meetings in Berlin over the past two months meant to promote
trade with the Islamic Republic.
The rift between Germany and Israel over
how to sanction Iran is also playing out on the military front. While the UK and
Dutch foreign ministers at the Brussels meeting on Monday did not explicitly
rule out military intervention against Iran, Westerwelle categorically rejected
it. Germany is, however, the only EU country that purports to see Israel’s
security interests as integral to its own.