BERLIN – Germany’s multi-billion euro bilateral trade relationship with Iran
continues unabated, even as evidence mounts that the Islamic Republic is
determined to build a nuclear weapons capability.
The Jerusalem Post has
obtained an uncensored list from late 2011, showing hundreds of German and
Iranian enterprises in a flourishing trade relationship.
This is despite
Iran’s construction of Fordow, a medium-level uranium enrichment facility buried
into the side of a mountain near Qom, and the fact that the German equipment
could be used to build more underground nuclear facilities.
businesses have asked that their names be removed from the list to avoid damage
to their reputations.
One company named is Baden-Württemberg-based
engineering giant Herrenknecht AG, which appears to be delivering heavy
tunneling equipment to Iran – some of which is promoted as having the capability
of “drilling down to depths of 6,000 meters.”
In response to Post
inquiries, an unidentified representative of the company wrote via email on
Friday that it has “comprehensively ensured that Herrenknecht excavation
engineering and services solely reach projects which clearly pursue civil
applications [metro tunnel construction, sewage pipes and water supply
After such projects are completed, it cannot be determined if
Iran intends to or already has used the equipment for its nuclear
Merchandise that can be used for military and civilian
purposes falls under the rubric of “dual-use” goods and may require approval
from Germany’s Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (BAFA)
response to Post questions, BAFA spokesman Volker Anders wrote via email on
Friday that the agency cannot comment because “administrative law does not allow
[the disclosure of] industrial and business secrets.”
told the Post that its transactions with Iran were approved by BAFA.
asked if his office had explicitly approved them, Anders responded that BAFA
issued approval for seven dual-use deals in 2011 worth a total of about 860,000
euros. The spokesman declined to name the companies and said that statistics for
the January to June 2012 period were not available.
Anders added that
BAFA approved 579 applications in 2011 regarding industrial goods that were
affected by sanctions against the Islamic Republic. The value of these
German-Iranian deals amounted to a little over 65 million euros.
Steiner, a senior research fellow at the Institute for Policy and Strategy at
the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, told the Post on Sunday: “Since the
1960s, Germany has been a steadfast ally of Israel and contributed to Israel’s
national security. One would hope that the German authorities would apply rigid
scrutiny to dual-use equipment and technology that meets the criteria of
The revelations have surfaced at a tricky moment
for German diplomacy with Iran over its nuclear program. The Federal Republic is
a member of the so-called the P5+1 — the five permanent members of the UN
Security Council, plus Germany — and German diplomat Helga Schmid led last
week’s technical nuclear negotiations in Istanbul with representatives of Iran’s
Late last month, Germany’s Federal Statistical Office said
that bilateral trade with Iran in 2011 totaled nearly 4 billion euros (with
about 3b. euros in German exports and 778m. euros in Iranian
Asked by the Post whether its business activities in Iran
imperiled international security and Israel, the unnamed Herrenknecht
representative said, “We would never do something that could hurt or place the
Jewish state in danger.”
The company added: “We distance ourselves from
every condescending, cynical or vile statement toward the Jewish people or the
State of Israel.”
Though EU sanctions have been in place since 2010 to
bar oil and gas technology trade with the Islamic Republic, Herrenknecht
participated in Iran’s most important oil trade show in 2012.
participate in the Iran oil show, companies are required to send their
registration fees to Bank Mellat – which the EU and US had sanctioned due to its
involvement in nuclear proliferation.
Herrenknecht declined to answer
Post questions about financial transactions with Bank Mellat.
showed that Merck KGaA, the giant Hesse-based chemical and pharmaceutical
company, has long been active in Iran. Merck spokesman Steffen Mueller remained
largely tight-lipped about its work with Iran, writing in an email that the
company adheres to all existing trade conditions.
The list also has an
entry from Linde Material Handling GmbH.
Linde spokesman Detlef
Sieverdingbeck wrote via email that the company delivered roughly 30 forklifts
to Iranian customers in 2011, with revenue totaling 800,000 euros. He said that
since December, the company has not accepted new orders from Iran because of
political conditions. It is unclear if the Linde forklifts have been used in
nuclear-related construction work.
Saba Farzan, a leading German-Iranian
journalist who has written extensively about the Islamic Republic, told the Post
on Sunday: “The world has seen the Iranian regime for three long decades using
lies and betrayal whenever dealing with the international community – especially
visible in this crisis over Iran’s nuclear weapons program. So how could any
company around the world doing trade with this regime seriously believe that
goods delivered will be used with responsibility? “Of every single innocent
item, this regime has the capability to turn it into something useful for its
nuclear weapons program – and with that something dangerous for the entire
world,” she said.
Farzan added: “Every company that is until this day
doing trade with the Islamic Republic should be reminded that profit should not
exclude social responsibility.
Social responsibility toward Iran’s civil
society, which works courageously toward achieving freedom, respect for human
rights and democracy. To me as a German- Iranian, it is mind-blowing – why on
earth are our businesses such huge trade partners of this terrible regime?”
Herrenknecht declined to comment about its social responsibility
Farzan added, “It is my country, Germany, that has offered me
the freedom that the country of my childhood has taken away from me and millions
of other Iranians. I want my country, Germany, to be on the right side of
history. This terror regime will fall, no doubt about it. Can we speed up its
downfall? We certainly can. The best way to guarantee that is through ending our
trade relations with it.
“We need to do that for the sake of the Iranian
people, the security of Israel, the region and the rest of the world, and for
our own conscience,” Farzan said.