BERLIN – Despite new rounds of UN and EU sanctions in 2010, German-Iranian export and import trade showed increases last year, according to an examination of new German government trade statistics last week by The Jerusalem Post.
The fresh data also revealed that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration’s approved 16 dual-use transactions with Teheran, which can be used for military and civilian purposes, and remain a major concern for the Israeli government because of the possibility that Iran can apply the equipment for a military application.
Ambassador to Berlin Yoram Ben-Ze’ev and Israeli security officials have over the years criticized flourishing German- Iranian economic relations, which provide sorely needed sophisticated technology to Iran’s government.
Trade numbers from the German Federal Statistical Office reveal that German export trade to Iran increased from $4,159,920,000 between January and October 2009 to $4,175,687,000 during the same time period in 2010. The overall export and import trade data for November and December is not yet available, according to the office. Iranian imports to Germany climbed to $909,176 between January and October 2010 when compared to $574,261 during the identical time frame last year.
Roger Bückert, the head of the group pro-Israel Initiative “Never Again,” wrote the Post by e-mail on Friday that he suspected an increase in German- Iranian trade in 2010.
“As long as relevant economic and societal associations such as the German chamber of commerce supply know-how at workshops, like the recent example in Bayreuth, regarding how one can knowingly circumvent international sanctions against Iran – and do not experience any ostracism or discouragement from the side of politicians and society, the trend will, unfortunately, continue...
despite political lip service.”
Bückert added, “It is true that any infrastructure aid to Iran is wrong, but supply of dual-use goods is completely unacceptable and morally reprehensible.
If Siemens had to refrain from business with Iran because surveillance technology was supplied to Iran that was used for bloody repression of the Iranian opposition, how much more must we reject supply of dualuse goods to Iran that could cause much greater harm.”
Tobias Pierlings, a spokesman for the German Economics Ministry, also wrote the Post by e-mail on Friday, saying, “Trade statistics on a monthly or quarterly basis are subject to heavy fluctuations.
They are therefore not useful as a basis for statements on long-term trends. A multi-year perspective shows that German exports to Iran are declining overall... An eventual increase of German exports to Iran through allowed export policy does not contradict the EU’s sanctions.”
When asked if Germany’s rising trade volume with Iran is jeopardizing the security of Europe and Israel, Pierlings wrote, “Israel’s security for the Federal German government is non-negotiable.”
He added that Germany has implemented the international and EU sanctions targeting Iran.
Holger Beutel, a spokesman for the German Federal Office of Economics and Export Control, told the Post on Wednesday that Germany supplied Iran last year with dual-use equipment like “replacement parts for rescue helicopters, valves for a steel work, a liquid jet vacuum pump for water treatment in connection with desalinization and protective clothing for medical production.”
He declined to comment on the names of the German firms involved in delivering dual-use technology to the Islamic Republic. The spokesman said some of the merchandise, for example, the protective gear, would now be banned under new sanctions because protective clothing could be used in military chemical weapons facilities.
The new round of EU sanctions, according to Beutel, made an exemption for the export of encryption and sophisticated telecommunications technology to Iran’s government and firms.
During the 2009 democracy protests against the alleged doctored results of the presidential elections in Iran, media reports revealed that Iran’s government, particularly the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), used surveillance equipment from the German- Finnish firm Siemens- Nokia to block and monitor internet connects, Twitter messages, and mobile and landline communications. It is unclear which EU countries pushed for the telecommunications exemption.
The United States designated the IRGC a global-terror entity in 2007. The EU has refused to crackdown on the IRGC.
According to Iran experts, the EU, which is Iran’s second largest trade partner after China, does not want to dramatically decrease its business relations with Teheran. The IRGC is estimated to control as much as 75 percent of Iran’s economy.
Bückert’s pro-Israel organization, which is located in the small West German city of Siegen, is slated to protest in late January against a local pipeline firm, Bergrohr, which conducts business transactions with Iran. Bergrohr has over 50 contracts with Iran’s energy sector, according to the company’s website.
Bückert said that Germany ought to swiftly implement unilateral sanctions that go beyond the potency of the EU sanctions.
“Germany’s relevance for the Iranian economy is so strong that unilateral German sanctions would mean a damaging blow for Iran’s economy.”