German intel: Iran sought to acquire weapons of mass destruction in 2018

Iran is suspected of attempting to secure know-how for uranium enrichment.

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September 19, 2019 23:30
2 minute read.
M302 rockets found aboard the Klos C ship are displayed at an Israeli navy base in the Red Sea resor

M302 rockets found aboard the Klos C ship are displayed at an Israeli navy base in the Red Sea resort city of Eilat March 10, 2014. The ship seized by the Israeli navy on suspicion of smuggling arms from Iran to the Gaza Strip docked on Saturday in Israel, which planned to put the cargo on display i. (photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)

A new German intelligence report from the state of Hesse outlined the Islamic Republic of Iran’s efforts to obtain weapons of mass destruction during 2018, as well as illicit espionage activities inside Germany.

“Against this background [of proliferation], weapons of mass destruction continued to be a powerful political instrument during the reporting period, which could shake the stability of an entire state structure in both regional and international crisis situations,” the Hesse report noted on Wednesday. “In particular, states such as Iran, North Korea, Pakistan and Syria attempted to acquire and redistribute such weapons in the context of proliferation, for example by concealing transport routes via third countries.”

The Jerusalem Post reviewed the 312-page document that details threats to the democratic state in Hesse.

The intelligence agents said that foreign academics seek to obtain knowledge about the uranium enrichment process.

According to the intelligence agency, visiting professors from states such as Iran, North Korea and Pakistan are connected to “proliferation conduct” that is coordinated with intelligence services from those countries.

“An example of this is the field of electrical engineering combined with the use of centrifuges in the process of uranium enrichment,” the report said. “Here, again and again, there are suspicions that foreign intelligence services put pressure on their own visiting scientists to obtain the desired technical know-how.”

The Hesse domestic intelligence agency findings have not been previously reported.

When asked if Iranian academics and students in Germany were involved in exploiting electrical engineering and uranium enrichment knowledge, a spokesman from the Hesse intelligence agency did not immediately respond late Wednesday evening.

“Another example of intelligence control is the exchange of research among university institutes in the chemical-biological process sector,” said the report, which noted that academic and student exchanges, as well as training of specialists between universities and research institutes, is both economically and politically desired and meaningful.

However, the document noted that this “frequently occurs with knowledge of respective intelligence agencies.” The report said that with respect to cyber espionage, “Iranian and Chinese cyber activities, in particular, indicate a continuing interest in economic and scientific goals.”

The report’s findings mirrored the conclusions from German state intelligence reports in the states of Bavaria and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

In May, the Bavaria intelligence report said that Iran’s regime is “making efforts to expand its conventional arsenal of weapons with weapons of mass destruction.”

The German intelligence agency for the northern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern wrote in its May report that: “The fight against the illegal proliferation of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons of mass destruction and the materials needed for their manufacture, as well as the corresponding delivery systems [e.g. rockets], including the necessary knowledge, in cooperation with other authorities, is also the responsibility of counterintelligence.

“From these points of view, it is essentially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea [North Korea] and the Syrian Arab Republic need to be mentioned,” the intelligence report continued. “The intelligence services of these countries, in many ways, are involved in unlawful procurement activities in the field of proliferation, using globally oriented, conspiratorial business and commercial structures.”

Each of the 16 German states has its own intelligence agency. The state-level intelligence agency is comparable to the Shin Bet, Israel’s security service.


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