J'lem concerned over Germany-Iran deal

Israel to seek clarification from Berlin over €100 million deal to build natural gas liquefying plants.

livni merkel 224 88 (photo credit: AP)
livni merkel 224 88
(photo credit: AP)
The Foreign Ministry will express its concerns and seek clarification from the highest levels of the German government about a decision by Germany's Export Control Office (BAFA) to approve a €100 million deal for building plants to liquefy natural gas in Iran, the ministry said Thursday in a statement. The story was first reported exclusively in Wednesday's Jerusalem Post. "The ministry has expressed its disappointment at reports that the German government gave its approval to a German company to sign on the deal with the Iranian gas company," the statement said. "The German government's decision is against the spirit of sanctions that the UN Security Council has placed on Iran," the statement continued. "It is worrying that precisely Germany, which is a member of the EU 3 - that includes France, Britain and Germany - is presenting a position that harms international attempts for significantly strengthening sanction against Iran's nuclear program." Government sources said they expected more of Germany because of that country's unique relationship with Israel. Meanwhile, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international Jewish human rights group, has called on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to block the deal between German energy company Steiner (SPG Steiner-Prematechnik-Gastec GmbH) and the Iranian government, wherein Steiner would construct three gas liquefaction plants in Iran. According to the Wiesenthal Center, Steiner's construction of the plants - which would have a capacity of 10,000 barrels a day - would place an obstacle in front of the sanctions Germany imposed on Iran earlier this month. "This deal helps Iran in this sensitive sector and makes a mockery of the international community's efforts to isolate a nuclearizing Iranian regime," said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, an associate dean of the center. "Unless the Chancellor overrules the Export Control Office's decision, Germany will strengthen Teheran and further embolden a regime whose president repeatedly calls for the destruction of the Jewish State." The German government contends that the deal does not violate the sanctions, as it is a legal agreement as opposed to a political one. The deal passed a twelve-month inspection process by the Export Control Office before being approved. Cooper added that the government's approval of the deal stood in contrast to Merkel's speech to the Knesset in March, when she said that "Germany will push for further sanctions" on Iran and that "this historic responsibility is part of my country's fundamental policy. It means that for me, as a German chancellor, Israel's security is non-negotiable."