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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Germany: 'Israel's security is non-negotiable for pork'

A member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has illegally pushed a 100-billion euro natural gas liquification deal through Germany's Export Control Office, in violation of worldwide sanctions against Iran, because the German firm that obtained the contract is located in his electoral district. In the process, the legislator - Hartmut Schauerte - has also violated a pledge made by Merkel before the Knesset in March that 'Israel's security is non-negotiable.'
"I've become an annoyance," boasted Hartmut Schauerte, a Christian Democratic Union (CDU) member of parliament and state secretary for the Economics Ministry, in an article in the Siegener Zeitung newspaper about his efforts to secure a permit for the massive gas contract.

The Export Control office concluded after a 12-month investigation that plans by German engineering firm Steiner-Prematechnik-Gastec to build equipment for converting natural gas to a liquid did not violate sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

"Because the equipment would be built here and then sent to Iran, that work does not fall under any existing sanctions involving Iran," said Holger Beutel, a spokesman for the government office.

SPG-Steiner-Prematechnik-Gastec will construct three facilities for the Iranians to liquefy natural gas.

Critics say politicized treatment of Teheran undercuts the CDU's stated goal to isolate the Islamic Republic. After basking in a showy celebration of Germany's close ties with Israeli politicians in March, Merkel said in an address to the Knesset that "Germany will push for further sanctions" on Iran, and, "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."

A giant question mark now hovers over Merkel's much-praised speech to the Knesset.

"This business deal is not compatible with the words of the chancellor in the Knesset," and the gas contract should be rescinded, Dr. Johannes Gerster, head of the German-Israeli friendship society and a former CDU member of parliament, told The Jerusalem Post.

Merkel's CDU colleague Schauerte doggedly peddled his clout at the Export Control office to obtain the contract for SPG Steiner-Prematechnik-Gastec; the firm is located in his election district in Sauerland, North Rhine-Westphalia.

"Without Hartmut Schauerte, nothing would have happened. We would still be waiting", said Bernd Steiner, chief executive officer of Steiner.

Export Control office spokesman Beutel told the Post Schauerte's lobbying activity was "exceptional," and that permit approval should be determined "independently" of political influence. The Export Control office has internal policies that, according to Beutel, prohibit "illegitimate influence."

When asked if Schauerte violated Export Control office regulations barring external interference, Beutel said there was an "internal review to examine all cases that are mentioned in the press."

Schauerte's personal assistant, Dr. Armgard Wippler from the Economics Ministry, told the Post Schauerte "does not wish to add any comments beyond what appeared" in the Siegener newspaper article.

Ulrich Wilhelm, who is a member of the Christian Social Union (CSU) and spokesman for Merkel, declined to return multiple Post telephone queries.

The CSU is the sister party of the CDU within the Federal government.


The liquid gas contract comes at a sensitive time for Germany's efforts to halt Iran's nuclear weapons program. The French energy giant Total withdrew from all Iranian gas projects after Iran tested long-range missiles this month that, according to Iranian officials, would be aimed at Israel. Yet the German Chambers of Industry and Commerce organized a business tour in Munich, Hamburg and Berlin for an Iranian delegation in July.

Critics charge Germany with not stepping up the pressure to restrict trade to Iran, and affirm its historical responsibility to secure Israel's existence. Iran's genocidal policy toward Israel is testing, for many Israelis, Germany's commitment to the Jewish state.
Read the whole thing. Yet more proof that sanctions against Iran are a farce that cannot and will not ever work.


At 6:48 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Carl - even if Germany - Israel's best friend in Europe enforced the sanctions, the Russians and Chinese would never go along with them. The world is not prepared to stop Iran - at least in time to avert the military option. For the U.S and certainly for Israel, that is going to come into play soon. What's left is the issue of timing.


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