German Firms Sold Sensitive Equipment to Iran Even During Sanctions Regime

One company evading Iran sanctions makes equipment used in nuclear plants.

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BERLIN - German companies in sectors like mechanical engineering and chemicals are eager to expand business with Iran following Tehran’s interim nuclear deal with the P5+1 world powers.

Germany has been Iran’s most important Western trading partner despite the international sanctions on Tehran. In 2012, German firms exported goods worth 2.5 billion euros to Iran. In the nine months from January to September this year, the number was 1.3 billion euros.

Haaretz has obtained a list of firms from the German-Iranian Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Tehran, known as AHK Iran in its German abbreviation. The list discusses “branches, agencies and representatives of German companies in Iran 2012.”

AHK Iran, which is partially funded Germany’s Ministry of Economy and Technology, supports German companies in their dealings with Iran. The list, published at the end of 2012, includes the names and areas of operations of 136 German companies that do business with Iran.

One company on the list, Bomafa Armaturen GmbH, is a maker of high-pressure valves and specialty valves for use in power stations and industrial plants. According to the company’s website, its equipment is used in nuclear plants as well.

Bomafa is represented in Tehran by an Iranian firm, Sinarad Kala Ltd., a supplier of industrial valves and accessories.

Another German company represented by Sinarad Kala is Gemu GmbH & Co. KG, based in the German state of Baden-Wurttemberg. The firm describes itself as a leading manufacturer of valves, instrumentation and measurement systems. Gemu declined to respond to Haaretz’s queries.

German-Iranian business cooperation has a long history. Two-thirds of Iranian industrial firms and three-quarters of small and midsized firms use machinery and other systems built by German companies. Michael Tockuss, the director of the German-Iranian chamber of commerce, said the Iranians are significantly dependent on German suppliers for mechanical equipment and spare parts.

German law is extremely clear on how far these commercial agreements can go, stating that “every product that could be used for both civilian and military purposes belongs to the category of dual-use products that require the approval of the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control.”

The spokesman for this office, Volker Anders, told Haaretz that in 2012 it approved five requests to export dual-use products, while 396 industrial products requiring special approval were cleared.

“Certainly not,” said Stop the Bomb spokesman Michael Spaney when asked if this office’s supervision was adequate. Stop the Bomb is a German group that works to limit trade with Iran. “It’s quite easy to do illegal business with Iran,” he said.

German magazine Focus said that since 2012 the number of violations of trade regulations with Iran has risen.

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