BERLIN – Germany is facing escalating criticism from local anti-nuclear activists and a sanctions expert in the United States for blocking tough EU sanctions against Iran, and specifically for not acting against the Hamburg-based Iranian EIH bank, which allegedly supplied Teheran with over a billion dollars for its nuclear and missile program.

The German chapter of the nonpartisan organization Stop the Bomb issued a statement in advance of Monday’s EU conference to finalize the new round of sanctions, saying, “The German negotiators are trying to enforce terms that would rob the sanctions of their penetrating power.

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“Germany is pushing for financial sector exemptions in this new sanctions package, despite resistance from other EU partners. Germany is trying to weaken British and French sanction demands, which target Iranian banks in Europe and the European banks doing transactions with them,” Stop the Bomb wrote.

“If Germany has its way, German banks operating with Iranian financial institutions wouldn’t be heavily affected by these sanctions.”

Jonathan Schanzer, vice president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and a former US Treasury Department official with an expertise in sanctions, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, “The EIH was designated by the US Treasury because it is owned and controlled by Iran and because it reportedly enabled Iran’s illicit nuclear activities. If Europe is serious about shutting down Iran’s nuclear network, it really does not have much of a choice but to follow suit.”

Michael Spaney, a spokesman for Stop the Bomb, said, “If the German federal government was to strip the sanctions of their potential crippling effects, it would undermine the international efforts to stop the Iranian policy of aggression.

“Germany’s leading role in trading with Iran and its years of appeasement has made the Iranian regime an ever-growing danger. If sanctions do not succeed in preventing Iran’s nuclear bomb, then it is to a large extent the fault of Germany,” said Spaney.

Stop the Bomb said that “With annual exports reaching €4 billion, Germany is at the forefront of exporters to Iran.

In particular, the German hitech exports to Iran in the energy sector cannot be replaced by other countries.

“Stop the Bomb sees this German- Iranian business relationship as essential support for Ahmadinejad’s regime. In the first four months of this year, German exports to Iran increased 13 percent, according to the German-Iranian Chamber of Commerce.”

Germany’s failure to address Iran’s human rights violations was also a subject of the Stop the Bomb statement.

“Appeals from Paris and London for tougher Iran sanctions have been rejected repeatedly by Berlin. After the bloody suppression of the Iranian opposition in the summer of last year, a British attempt to impose diplomatic penalties was blocked by Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“Britain wanted to withdraw the European ambassadors from Iran. Merkel objected to these proposals. The international community views Germany’s role in the Iran issue with increased criticism,” Stop the Bomb said.

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies’s Emanuele Ottolenghi and Mark Dubowitz, writing in The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, also emphasized the importance of tough EU sanctions: “For years, Europe has been criticized for its lucrative business deals with a regime that threatens Israel with nuclear annihilation, sponsors terror around the globe, and brutalizes its own population. Now, the rest of the world will be watching how the EU expands on June’s new round of UN sanctions, in both substance and implementation. The EU is Iran’s largest trading partner, so whatever it does will become a ‘ceiling,’ particularly for Gulf and Asian countries that are unlikely to do more. That’s why it's so important that Europe finally gets it right,” they wrote.

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