Berlin bans sale of trucks to Syria, Iran

Mossad appeal, Jerusalem Post headlines cited as reasons for Germany's decision in 2008.

Merkel 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Merkel 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's administration imposed a ban on the sale of heavy trucks to Iran and Syria in April 2008 because of Israeli intelligence concerns, according to a report in last week's Der Spiegel magazine. Vehicles "with three or more axles" and a total "weight of more than 20,000 kilograms" can be used to fire Iranian missiles. Israeli government officials asked representatives of the federal republic last year what their reaction would be if it was ever learned that Teheran had fired missiles at Israel from German trucks. "The expansion of the embargo to include Daimler's semi trucks is also the work of the Israelis. About a year-and-a-half ago, officials from the Mossad told authorities in Berlin about a three-axle special truck that the Syrian government had ordered for its military," according to the Spiegel article. Responding to Israel security concerns, the Merkel administration blocked the delivery of the Daimler trucks. Yet the Daimler Benz top lobbyist, Martin Jäger, a former spokesman for Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, is attempting to compel the Merkel administration to reverse its restrictions on Daimler. According to the Spiegel article, Foreign Ministry "diplomats fear headlines in The Jerusalem Post saying that German trucks are refueling Iranian fighter jets." Germany is one of Teheran's leading European Union trade partners (€4 billion in 2008), and has supplied it with sophisticated technology. German truck makers such as MAN SE and Daimler have been recalcitrant about ending their lucrative trade relationship with Iran. Dominique Nadelhofer, a MAN spokesman, told the Post his firm had dealt with its Nazi history and so met its responsibility toward Israel's security. Meanwhile, Siemens, the Munich-based engineering and energy giant, furnished the Iranian regime with surveillance equipment that is, according to a report in Monday's Wall Street Journal, enabling it to "not only block [Internet] communication but to monitor it to gather information about individuals, as well as alter it for disinformation purposes." The Post disclosed last year in an exclusive report the delivery of Siemens surveillance technology to Teheran, which can be used to track transportation in Israel. The Siemens surveillance equipment can, according to security experts, be used to repress protesters and minority groups in the Islamic republic.