US ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell has launched an inquiry into whether the giant German trade fair company IMAG conducts business with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, The Jerusalem Post has learned.“Ambassador Grenell confirmed that the US is looking into the issue,” a US official told the Post.The probe into IMAG follows a Thursday Post report about allegations leveled against the trade fair business for endangering Middle East security and aiding the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which the US government classifies as a foreign terrorist organization.IMAG is a subsidiary of Messe München. IMAG and Messe München’s business activities could make the companies vulnerable to US secondary sanctions.Grenell has gone to great lengths to stop trade with Iran because he insists it helps finance terrorism and Tehran’s nuclear weapons program.Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told the Post: “Outrageous German entities doing business with and abetting Iran and its Revolutionary Guard should be sanctioned by the US.”IMAG is slated to organize Conexpo CON/AGG, “North America’s largest construction trade show,” which is held every three years at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The next Conexpo CON/AGG event is scheduled for March 10-14, 2020.The US government on Thursday slapped new sanctions on Iran’s construction industry. US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus tweeted on Friday: “The US is increasing maximum pressure on the Iranian regime by targeting Iran’s construction sector. It’s controlled by the IRGC – a terrorist organization. Anyone who sells, supplies or transfers covered materials to Iran’s construction sector will face mandatory sanctions.”Multiple press queries sent to IMAG’s senior management went unanswered.IMAG’s managing director Peter Bergleiter, senior executive Gabriele Kraus, and the company’s public relations director Claudia Grzelke have refused over the last few days to answer media queries.The Post reached out Messe München chairman and CEO Klaus Dittrich. He declined to comment.The NGO Stop the Bomb, which seeks to end Iran’s nuclear weapons program and improve human rights in the Islamic Republic, published material about IMAG’s business in Iran.
Stop the Bomb’s research said that IMAG claims it is “involved in eight fairs in the Islamic Republic of Iran and is therefore a leading organizer of international business with the Iranian regime. Three of those fairs start within the next 14 days: IIEE Energy fair is scheduled for October 30th, mining fair Iran ConMin starts October 31st, and IAPEX automobile parts fair is scheduled to start 9th of November.”
Ulrike Becker, a Stop the Bomb spokeswoman, said, “We think it’s unbearable that the German government and German companies are a leading actor in establishing business with the only regime which considers the annihilation of Israel a linchpin of its foreign policy. We call upon both the government and the companies: Stop your activities in Iran! There must not be any business with Iran until the regime stops the threats against Israel, its support of terrorism in the region, and globally and of course, its constant violations of human rights.”
The Post contacted the press department of Conexpo CON/AGG trade show in Las Vegas and expects a reply within 48 hours.
The organization United Against a Nuclear Iran (UANI) complained in a, January 2019, letter to the executives of IMAG and Messe München about their business with the Islamic Republic of Iran. The US government classifies Iran's regime the top state-sponsor of terrorism.
Ambassador Mark D. Wallace, the head of UANI, wrote that: "IMAG should not organize, participate or otherwise have any role in U.S.-based conferences while it continues to faciliate platforms for sanction-designated Iranian persons and entities and for foreign companies investing in a country whose official mantra is ‘death to America.’ Be assured UANI will not hesitate to shine the light of public scrutiny on any company that continues to do business in the United States and in Iran.'
Wallace added that “IMAG’s ongoing facilitation of these pro-Iran conferences, trade fairs and exhibitions, even after the U.S. reimposed sweeping secondary sanctions on every major sector of the Iranian economy on November 5, 2018, is assuredly egregious. Ultimately, IMAG is perfectly free to choose where to do business: Either in Iran or in the United States, but not both.”