July 8, 2016 | Policy Brief

Post-JCPOA, Iran Revs Up Nuclear, Missile Procurement in Germany

July 8, 2016 | Policy Brief

Post-JCPOA, Iran Revs Up Nuclear, Missile Procurement in Germany

On the eve of the Iran deal’s one-year anniversary, a new report by Germany’s domestic intelligence agency says that Iran sought illicit nuclear and missile technology in Germany throughout 2015, and was expected to continue doing so.

Tehran has long sought to obtain technology in the Federal Republic to advance its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. The new report suggests that the Islamic Republic may be violating the UN procurement provisions in connection with last year’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal.

Under the nuclear agreement, the supplier of sensitive or dual-use materials must have its government submit a proposal for a nuclear-related sale to the UN’s Procurement Working Group. Iran did not seek approval for the technology cited in the German intelligence report. It is unclear why the German government did not report Iran’s procurement requests to the working group.

The report’s findings coincide with German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s policy statement to the Bundestag on Thursday that Iran had violated the UN Security Council’s anti-missile-development regulations (missile-related goods are still banned unless authorized by the UN Security Council).

Iranian sanctions violations to procure nuclear material have been reported prior to the JCPOA. Articles on the 2014 intelligence report, for example, exposed Iran’s illicit nuclear activity in Germany and cited an intelligence source saying efforts to obtain nuclear technology continued into June of 2015.

According to the domestic intelligence report of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Iran made 141 attempts last year to obtain technology for proliferation, up from 83 attempts the year before. Ninety percent of the illicit-procurement attempts were designed to further the construction of nuclear-weapon devices and missile launchers, the agency said.

A foreign policy spokesman of the center-right CDU/CSU parliamentary fraction warned, “Should the investigation of the Federal Office factually show criminal actions that are attributed to Iran, they cannot remain without consequences, including the re-implementation of sanctions.”

Also this week, the Institute for Science and International Security reported that Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization had sought to purchase “tons of controlled carbon fiber” – an important material for its nuclear program.

The P5+1 negotiators, as well as the U.S. Congress now face a critical juncture. Shouldn’t Iran’s attempt to violate the JCPOA and the UNSC resolutions that locked it in be treated as the breach that it is? If so, how should they respond? Is the JCPOA framework for addressing violations working at all? As the announcement of nuclear deal reaches its one-year anniversary, these are some of the most critical questions facing Washington and its partners.

Benjamin Weinthal is a Berlin-based fellow for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow him on Twitter: @BenWeinthal