Merkel worried 311.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
BERLIN – German Chancellor Angela Merkel remains unlikely to order the closure
of the Hamburg-based Iranian bank (EIH), which has reportedly funneled over $1
billion into Iran’s military and ballistic weapons programs, despite reported
pressure from President Barack Obama.
A spokeswoman for Merkel wrote in
an e-mail to the The Jerusalem Post this week that “in the concrete case of the
EIH Bank, this is a financial institution under German law located in Hamburg.
As such, the EIHB is subject to very strict controls on the part of the German
bank monitoring authorities.”
Earlier this month, John Vinocur, senior
correspondent and columnist of the International Herald Tribune, wrote of
Germany’s “reluctance” and “hesitation to clamp down on a bank in Hamburg
facilitating suspect European deals with Iran.”
This reluctance, he
added, “resulted in a recent phone call, to no immediate avail,” from Obama to
Merkel’s spokeswoman did not directly answer the Post’s query
about why this reported presidential request had been rejected.
Treasury Department has classified EIH as a terrorist entity because of its
involvement with nuclear proliferation and terror activities. The EIH Bank is
banned in the US.
The governments of France, the United States and the
United Kingdom made great efforts to convince the German Foreign Ministry in
advance of the July EU sanctions against Iran to shut down the bank’s
operations. Critics have charged Germany, which is Iran’s No. 1 European trade
partner, with prioritizing short-term trade profits with Teheran over the
security of Israel and the West.
Merkel’s spokeswoman told the Post that
“in the European context, at the European Council on June 17, the chancellor
advocated rapid and more extensive implementation of the UN sanctions on the
She added that “the German chancellor and the American
president agree on their analysis of the situation and further steps in regard
to Iran. The goal is and remains to move Iran to completely fulfill its
obligations to the Security Council and the IAEA and to cooperate in order to
eliminate the significant doubts about its nuclear program.”
a leading German- Iranian expert, told the Post on Tuesday that “it is not
sufficient to put this bank just under control – not nearly. The right measure
at this time would be to ban this bank from doing business.
both the public and policy-makers tend to forget what a strong impact the
unilateral sanctions by the Bush administration in 2007 had. German banks
started to step out of the Iran business after the pressure by US
She added, “Now imagine what an impact it would have if the
German government imposed an effective unilateral tool by banning this precise
bank from doing business in our country. Germany should have a great interest to
stop Iran getting its hands on a nuclear bomb – for peace and stability in the
Middle East and also for our own security. I do see Chancellor Merkel as
committed in preventing this nightmare, but I would love to see all our
politicians living up to their responsibility.”
Merkel’s spokeswoman also
issued the administration’s first statement on the controversial July Bundestag
resolution which slammed Israel for the fatal May 31 raid on the Gaza-bound Mavi
Marmara and criticized the Gaza blockade.
She told the Post
German Bundestag parliamentary factions came to a unanimous resolution on the
motion – ‘Investigate the events surrounding the Gaza flotilla, improve the
situation of the people of Gaza, support the Middle East peace process’– on July
1, 2010. The Bundestag acts in its own right. The Bundestag decision speaks for
itself. It is not the executive’s job to comment on resolutions by the German
Jewish and non-Jewish NGOs sharply criticized the resolution
as fiercely onesided and anti-Semitic. Germany’s parliament was the only EU
member parliament to devote a legislative session to the issue.