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Monday, March 30, 2009

Ex-Iranian ayatollah slams German trade with Iran

At a conference in Haifa over the weekend, Germany (whose Prime Minister, Angela Merkel, is shown opposite Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the picture at top left) was slammed by an ex-Iranian ayatollah for its trade relations with Iran (Hat Tip: Michael T).
Ayatollah Dr. Mehdi Haeri Khorshidi, a former member of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's government, said during a convention on Iran at Haifa University that Germany prefers to salvage its billion-dollar deals rather than apply the pressure necessary to stop the Iranian nuclear program.

The ayatollah, who resided in Germany in the years 1986-2003, said the country had extended its dealings with Iran while pointedly disregarding its nuclear program and human rights violations.

He also criticized the EU which, he said, does not take advantage of its power in order to weaken Tehran's nuclear aspirations and prevent a war that would be destructive to the entire region.

"Iran depends on Europe no less than Europe depends on Iran," he said.

Khorshidi's statements stirred an uproar at the conference, which was also attended by Germany's ambassador to Israel, Dr. Harald Kindermann. He stepped on stage unannounced in order to refute the claims made by the ayatollah, stressing that his country had changed its policies towards Iran.
I wonder how recently Kindermann claims that his country has changed its policies regarding Iran. This is from a February article in the Wall Street Journal that I blogged here.
Yet because of the sheer volume of its trade with Iran, Germany, the economic engine of Europe, is uniquely positioned to pressure Tehran. Still, the obvious danger of a nuclear-armed Iran has not stopped Germany from rewarding the country with a roughly €4 billion trade relationship in 2008, thereby remaining Iran's most important European trade partner. In the period of January to November 2008, German exports to Iran grew by 10.5% over the same period in 2007. That booming trade last year included 39 "dual-use" contracts with Iran, according to Germany's export-control office. Dual-use equipment and technology can be used for both military and civilian purposes.

One example of Germany's dysfunctional Iran policy is the energy and engineering giant Siemens. The company acknowledged last week at its annual stockholder meeting in Munich, which I attended, that it conducted €438 million in trade with Iran in 2008, and that its 290 Iran-based employees will remain active in the gas, oil, infrastructure and communications sectors.

Concerned stockholders and representatives from the political organization Stop the Bomb, a broad-based coalition in Germany and Austria seeking to prevent Iran from building a nuclear-weapons program, peppered Siemens CEO Peter Löscher with questions about the corporation's dealings with the Iranian regime. A Stop the Bomb spokesman questioned Siemens's willingness to conduct business with a country known for its human- and labor-rights violations, ranging from the violent oppression of women to the murder of gays to the repression of religious and ethnic minority groups. The spokesman referred to Siemens's Nazi-era history as an employer of forced labor from the Auschwitz extermination camp and asked how, in light of the corporation's Nazi history, the company could support an "anti-Semitic and terrorist regime" that threatens to wipe Israel off the map.

Mr. Löscher replied to the 9,500 stockholders in Olympic Hall that, "For Siemens, compliance and ethics have the highest priority, including where human-rights issues are involved." Yet, after further questions from the Stop the Bomb spokesman, he acknowledged that Siemens and its joint partner, Nokia, had delivered state-of-the-art communications surveillance technology to Iran last spring.

Information-technology experts say that the companies' "monitoring centers" are used to track mobile and land-line telephone conversations, and that their "intelligence platform" systems allow the Iranian secret service to track financial transactions and airplane movements. The technologies could also be used to monitor persecuted minority and dissident groups in Iran.


Trade and security experts assert that Iran cannot easily replace high-tech German engineering technology with that from competitor nations such as China and Russia. The hollow pleas by Chancellor Angela Merkel, who favors a policy of moral pressure to convince corporations to be "sensitive" about cutting new deals with the regime in Tehran, did not prevent her administration from approving over 2,800 commercial deals with Iran in 2008.
Just when does Dr. Kindermann claim that Germany has changed its policies? In the last six weeks?


At 4:17 PM, Blogger Andre (Canada) said...

So, how do we organize a boycott of Siemens and Nokia?

At 10:28 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

The West wants to believe the mullahs are capable of reform. The problem is Islam and the West can't co-exist - not ever. The Iranian regime is quite happy to take the infidel money to destroy its enemies later. Those bent on appeasement will see what they want to see.


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