German firms still ship dual-use goods to Iran (JERUSALEM POST) By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL, MAXIMILIAN KIEWEL 07/09/12)
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BERLIN – Germany’s multi-billion euro bilateral trade relationship
with Iran continues unabated, even as evidence mounts that the
Islamic Republic is determined to build a nuclear weapons capability.
The Jerusalem Post has obtained an uncensored list from late 2011,
showing hundreds of German and Iranian enterprises in a flourishing
This is despite Iran’s construction of Fordow, a medium-level uranium
enrichment facility buried into the side of a mountain near Qom, and
the fact that the German equipment could be used to build more
underground nuclear facilities.
Some businesses have asked that their names be removed from the list
to avoid damage to their reputations.
One company named is Baden-Württemberg-based engineering giant
Herrenknecht AG, which appears to be delivering heavy tunneling
equipment to Iran – some of which is promoted as having the
capability of “drilling down to depths of 6,000 meters.”
In response to Post inquiries, an unidentified representative of the
company wrote via email on Friday that it has “comprehensively
ensured that Herrenknecht excavation engineering and services solely
reach projects which clearly pursue civil applications [metro tunnel
construction, sewage pipes and water supply lines].”
After such projects are completed, it cannot be determined if Iran
intends to or already has used the equipment for its nuclear
Merchandise that can be used for military and civilian purposes falls
under the rubric of “dual-use” goods and may require approval from
Germany’s Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (BAFA)
In response to Post questions, BAFA spokesman Volker Anders wrote via
email on Friday that the agency cannot comment
because “administrative law does not allow [the disclosure of]
industrial and business secrets.”
Herrenknecht had told the Post that its transactions with Iran were
approved by BAFA.
When asked if his office had explicitly approved them, Anders
responded that BAFA issued approval for seven dual-use deals in 2011
worth a total of about 860,000 euros. The spokesman declined to name
the companies and said that statistics for the January to June 2012
period were not available.
Anders added that BAFA approved 579 applications in 2011 regarding
industrial goods that were affected by sanctions against the Islamic
Republic. The value of these German-Iranian deals amounted to a
little over 65 million euros.
Tommy Steiner, a senior research fellow at the Institute for Policy
and Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, told the Post
on Sunday: “Since the 1960s, Germany has been a steadfast ally of
Israel and contributed to Israel’s national security. One would hope
that the German authorities would apply rigid scrutiny to dual-use
equipment and technology that meets the criteria of sanctions
The revelations have surfaced at a tricky moment for German diplomacy
with Iran over its nuclear program. The Federal Republic is a member
of the so-called the P5+1 — the five permanent members of the UN
Security Council, plus Germany — and German diplomat Helga Schmid led
last week’s technical nuclear negotiations in Istanbul with
representatives of Iran’s government.
Late last month, Germany’s Federal Statistical Office said that
bilateral trade with Iran in 2011 totaled nearly 4 billion euros
(with about 3b. euros in German exports and 778m. euros in Iranian
Asked by the Post whether its business activities in Iran imperiled
international security and Israel, the unnamed Herrenknecht
representative said, “We would never do something that could hurt or
place the Jewish state in danger.”
The company added: “We distance ourselves from every condescending,
cynical or vile statement toward the Jewish people or the State of
Though EU sanctions have been in place since 2010 to bar oil and gas
technology trade with the Islamic Republic, Herrenknecht participated
in Iran’s most important oil trade show in 2012.
To participate in the Iran oil show, companies are required to send
their registration fees to Bank Mellat – which the EU and US had
sanctioned due to its involvement in nuclear proliferation.
Herrenknecht declined to answer Post questions about financial
transactions with Bank Mellat.
The list showed that Merck KGaA, the giant Hesse-based chemical and
pharmaceutical company, has long been active in Iran. Merck spokesman
Steffen Mueller remained largely tight-lipped about its work with
Iran, writing in an email that the company adheres to all existing
The list also has an entry from Linde Material Handling GmbH.
Linde spokesman Detlef Sieverdingbeck wrote via email that the
company delivered roughly 30 forklifts to Iranian customers in 2011,
with revenue totaling 800,000 euros. He said that since December, the
company has not accepted new orders from Iran because of political
conditions. It is unclear if the Linde forklifts have been used in
nuclear-related construction work.
Saba Farzan, a leading German-Iranian journalist who has written
extensively about the Islamic Republic, told the Post on Sunday: “The
world has seen the Iranian regime for three long decades using lies
and betrayal whenever dealing with the international community –
especially visible in this crisis over Iran’s nuclear weapons
program. So how could any company around the world doing trade with
this regime seriously believe that goods delivered will be used with
responsibility? “Of every single innocent item, this regime has the
capability to turn it into something useful for its nuclear weapons
program – and with that something dangerous for the entire world,”
Farzan added: “Every company that is until this day doing trade with
the Islamic Republic should be reminded that profit should not
exclude social responsibility.
Social responsibility toward Iran’s civil society, which works
courageously toward achieving freedom, respect for human rights and
democracy. To me as a German- Iranian, it is mind-blowing – why on
earth are our businesses such huge trade partners of this terrible
regime?” Herrenknecht declined to comment about its social
Farzan added, “It is my country, Germany, that has offered me the
freedom that the country of my childhood has taken away from me and
millions of other Iranians. I want my country, Germany, to be on the
right side of history. This terror regime will fall, no doubt about
it. Can we speed up its downfall? We certainly can. The best way to
guarantee that is through ending our trade relations with it.
“We need to do that for the sake of the Iranian people, the security
of Israel, the region and the rest of the world, and for our own
conscience,” Farzan said. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 07/09/12)
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