By Benjamin Weinthal
October 18, 2019
Material in a batch of German intelligence documents on Tehran’s illegal nuclear conduct in the federal republic as late as 2018 necessitate “confronting Iran with the intelligence and asking hard questions,” according to one of the leading international authorities on arms control.
Emily B. Landau, director of the Arms Control and Regional Security Project at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, told The Jerusalem Post that the documents prove that Iran has not kept to its commitment outlined in the 2015 nuclear deal.
“First, it is important that this intel be widely published and that it become part of the public debate over Iran, as it indicates that Iran has not complied with its commitment not to work on military nuclear capability,” she said.
“From my perspective, [the] most important thing at this point is to have it widely known that Iran did not stop everything in 2015 [when the nuclear deal was reached], because the debate in Europe ignores this,” she said, adding, “The point is that it [Iran] has continued these efforts well after the JCPOA [(Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) was reached].”
Landau is the author of Arms Control in the Middle East: Cooperative Security Dialogue and Regional Constraints. She noted that the Iran deal “set up a special channel regarding procurement for checking issues of this sort,” which is of the sort detailed in the German intelligence documents. “The problem is that the deliberations there get close to zero attention.”
The International Atomic Energy Agency, tasked with ensuring Iran’s regime is in compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, declined to comment on the documents.
When asked whether the IAEA had reviewed the German intelligence documents, Fredrik Dahl, an IAEA spokesman, told the Post: “We have no comment.” Dahl also declined to answer follow-up questions about whether the IAEA will review the reports.
According to a September intelligence report from the German state of Hesse, intelligence officials wrote that “against this background [of proliferation], weapons of mass destruction continued to be a powerful political instrument during the reporting period, which could shake the stability of the entire state structure in both regional and international crisis situations.”
The report said “in particular, states such as Iran, North Korea, Pakistan and Syria attempted to acquire and redistribute such weapons in the context of proliferation, for example by concealing transport routes via third countries.”
Guest academics from these nuclear proliferation countries are linked to “proliferation conduct” that is coordinated by intelligence services from those countries, said the report.
“An example of this is the field of electrical engineering combined with the use of centrifuges in the process of uranium enrichment,” the Hesse intelligence report said. “Here, again and again, there are suspicions that foreign intelligence services put pressure on their own visiting scientists to obtain the desired technical know-how.”
When asked whether the Hesse state’s intelligence agency had forwarded its findings to the IAEA, the UN and the Security Council, Carsten Rauch, a spokesman for the Hesse domestic intelligence agency, told the Post: “Beyond the information contained in our annual report, the State Office for the Protection of the Constitution of Hesse cannot provide you with information in the sense of your request.”
Iran was cited as a country linked to espionage targeting German universities.
“Another example of intelligence control is the exchange of research among university institutes in the chemical-biological process sector,” the report said.
The findings in the Hesse report largely conform to other German intelligence data. For example, a Bavarian state intelligence report names Iran as a “country of risk” that is “making efforts to supplement its arsenal of conventional weapons with weapons of mass destruction.”
Angela Pley, a spokeswoman for Germany’s federal intelligence agency, told the Post: “The constitutional protection authorities have no knowledge about actual violations by Iran of the JCPOA in Germany. In contrast, the federal and state constitutional protection authorities report in their annual reports on Iran’s proliferation-relevant procurement activities for its missile program, which is not covered by the JCPOA. Against this background, no information was provided to the IAEA, the UN Security Council or the UN.”
The JCPOA is intended to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions in exchange for economic sanctions relief.
The US government withdrew from the agreement in 2018 because it claimed the nuclear deal did not stop Iran’s drive to build atomic weapons and missiles, as well as blunt Iranian regime terrorism.
Writing in the Swiss weekly Die Weltwoche in October, the prominent Swiss journalist Pierre Heumann reported on the German intelligence reports. In his article titled “The range of action of Iran extends all the way to Europe,” Heumann wrote, “In addition, several German intelligence reports warn that the Islamic Republic is pursuing a program for the production of weapons of mass destruction. This is documented by spies who are in the service of Bavaria, Hamburg, Hesse or North Rhine-Westphalia. The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution also warned repeatedly that Tehran has not abandoned its illegal activities.”
Heumann added that “The Iranian quest for weapons of mass destruction has so far not attracted the attention in the West that it would have deserved for the explosive revelations. Even though the [Iranian] attacks on the Saudi oil facilities show that Iran’s martial ambitions are to be taken seriously.”