July 2, 2018 | The Jerusalem Post

Report: Iran seeking illegal missile technology in Germany

The Islamic Republic of Iran sought to obtain illicit goods for its missile program from Germany, the intelligence agency for Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, announced on Friday.

In the report reviewed by The Jerusalem Post, the intelligence agency wrote: “Because of the demand for relevant goods for its rocket program, Iran continues to represent proliferation defense in our work.”

The report cited Iran’s activities in its section titled “Education and Defense from Proliferation.”

The report, which covers 2017, stated that in connection with illegal Iranian and Pakistani efforts to obtain missile technology “in the overwhelming majority of the number of cases, however, there occurred no delivery of the particular goods.”

It is unclear from the report how many attempts Iran has made to secure illegal technology nor the number of attempts that led to the transfer of proliferation merchandise and know-how to Iran’s regime.

The report said that states like Iran, North Korea, Syria and Pakistan have not been successful up until now to continue to manufacture goods that are required for the continued development of weapons programs in their countries.

“North Rhine-Westphalia, as the strongest economic location with a large number of companies and research institutions, continued to remain in 2017 in focus as a proliferation relevant procuring entity,” the intelligence agency wrote in its technical report.

The intelligence agency defined proliferation activities as the “continued spread of atomic, biological or chemical weapons of mass destruction… and the application of products for their production.” The report said Iran engaged in espionage in Germany in “classic spy goals like politics, the economy and the military.”

Iran’s Quds Force – a special brigade of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards that covers extraterritorial operations – was active in North Rhine-Westphalia and throughout Germany, wrote the intelligence officials. The report said a key mission of the Quds Force is to “spy on Israeli and pro-Israel institutions, Israeli nationals living in Germany, and people of the Jewish faith.”

The North Rhine-Westphalia report confirms similar data released by additional state intelligence agencies reviewed by the Post in May and June. German state intelligence agencies in Baden-Württemberg, Saxony-Anhalt, Bavaria and Lower Saxony published damning information about Iran’s illicit procurement networks in Germany.

Baden-Württemberg’s state intelligence agency wrote: “Iran continued to undertake, as did Pakistan and Syria, efforts to obtain goods and know-how to be used for the development of weapons of mass destruction and to optimize corresponding missile- delivery systems.”

German exports to Iran rose to €3.5 billion in 2017 from €2.6b. in 2016.

Germany conducts dual-use deals with the Islamic Republic in which merchandise can be used for military and civilian purposes.

The Post reported in February that Iranian businessmen purchased industrial material from the Krempel company in Baden-Württemberg that was later found in chemical rockets used to gas Syrian civilians in January and February. A total of 24 Syrians were severely injured in those poison gas attacks.

Germany’s Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control told the Post that the Krempel material was not a dual-use item, and declined to stop trade between Krempel and the Islamic Republic.

GERMAN CHANCELLOR Angela Merkel announced last week that Europe needs to do more to counter Iran’s bellicose policies in the Middle East. “Iran’s aggressive tendencies must not only be discussed, but rather we need solutions urgently,” Merkel said in Jordan.

She has declined to propose a plan to stop Iranian aggression and has not said whether she would take action against Hezbollah in Germany or label Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) a terrorist organization.

According to the North Rhine-Westphalia report, there are 105 active Hezbollah members in the state. Hezbollah operatives raise funds and recruit new members to advance the aims of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The intelligence report registered a “light increase” in Hezbollah supporters in the state compared to the previous year.

The US administration classified the IRGC a terrorist organization in October. Canada’s House of Commons urged last week that the liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau proscribe the IRGC as a full-blown terrorist organization.

The US government has repeatedly urged the Merkel administration to ban all of Hezbollah in Germany. Canada’s parliament also urged the government in its resolution not to reestablish diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell has urged German companies to wind down business with Iranian companies – the policy of the US government. He said in June in a meeting with a senior delegation from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee: “Here in Germany, I have asked the German government to support our efforts to stop an airline called Mahan Air from utilizing German airspace and airports. We know that Mahan Air has been used by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a mode of transport for weapons, resources and fighters, so we’re asking our allies to help us put a stop to it.”

Benjamin Weinthal reports on human rights in the Middle East and is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow him on Twitter @BenWeinthal.

Follow the Foundation for Defense of Democracies on Twitter @FDD. FDD is a Washington-based nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.