Cell phone in rocket shelter.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The global giant German telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom pulled the plug on phone and internet service for Iran’s Bank Melli due to US sanction pressure.
On Friday, the US Embassy in Berlin tweeted that Deutsche Telekom “cuts off phone and Internet to Iran’s Bank Melli, which funnels terrorist groups working for the Iranian regime.” The embassy added that “sanctions are working” and “thank you Deutsche Telekom.”
The embassy’s tweet linked to a Thursday story in the German business daily Handelsblatt that said the communication company told the Hamburg-based Bank Melli: “We have to assume that you can no longer make any payments” for Telekom business.
The US reimposed sanctions on Iranian banks, including Bank Melli, on November 5 due to their role in illicit terrorist activities and support for the country’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
According to Handelsblatt, Bank Melli Hamburg managing director Helmut Gottlieb said the loss of Deutsche Telekom service has caused the bank’s operation to be “almost paralyzed.”
The Handelsblatt, whose Friday editorial lashed out at the US pressure on Germany companies on Friday, wrote in its news article that “although the EU and the federal government reject the US sanctions against Iran, German firms are complying with these sanctions.” The paper added that Telekom said it had decided to “end export businesses with Iranian companies.”
Iranian regime-controlled press outlets wrote over the weekend that the Public Relations Department of Bank Melli said the Handelsblatt report is “fundamentally false” and that Deutsche Telekom has “not disconnected” its Internet and telephone service. The Jerusalem Post reported that Iran frequently denies reports that have been confirmed by multiple Western sources, as part of its efforts to insulate its struggling economy from further financial setbacks.
US ambassador Richard Grenell, who has worked to end German trade with Iran because of Tehran’s support for terrorism and its drive to achieve nuclear weapons capability, said that the US is “very satisfied that German companies have decided to comply with US sanctions.” Grenell is widely considered the most successful ambassador, since he has managed to wean European companies off business with the regime.
The US State Department classifies Iran as the top international state-sponsor of terrorism. Bank Melli has a long history of advancing Iran’s illicit ballistic, nuclear, and terrorism programs, according to the US Treasury Department. “Bank Melli has facilitated numerous purchases of sensitive materials for Iran’s nuclear and missile programs. In doing so, Bank Melli has provided a range of financial services on behalf of Iran’s nuclear and missile industries, including opening letters of credit and maintaining accounts,” wrote the department in 2007.
According to the Handelsblatt, many German companies report on a weekly basis to the US embassy to inform the US government that they are in compliance with sanctions against Iran.
The German government owns 14.5% of Deutsche Telekom. The communications company has a customer base in the US with its T-Mobile business.
On Sunday, Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan urged Germany during his keynote address at Frankfurt’s Deutscher Israelkongress to join US sanctions against Iran because the mullah regime is an “exporter of terror.”
In October, President Reuven Rivlin requested Chancellor Angela Merkel adhere to US sanctions. However, Merkel rebuffed Israel’s request to sanction Iran.
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