BONN (Dec. 21)
West Germany supplied arms to Iran as early as 1973 but channeled them through Israel in order to keep the deals secret at a time when Bonn officially embargoed arms sales to areas of tension, including the Middle East, according to reports that surfaced here over the weekend.
Die Welt, a leading conservative daily, reported that in 1973, Iran, then ruled by the Shah, obtained rights to produce two West German tank cannons and the ammunition for them. A year later, West Germany shipped 58,000 hand grenade fuses to Iran, through Israeli channels, the paper said.
Israel was used to avoid embarrassment and to head off possible Arab criticism. Israel was then governed by a Labor-led government. The information is based on government leaks to counter an opposition campaign against the sale of submarine blueprints to South Africa.
The conservative government of Chancellor Helmut Kohl apparently seeks to show that previous governments led by the opposition Social Democratic Party (SPD) had a record of selling arms to any country, regardless of officially stated policies. Shipments were also made to Chile, Argentina and Peru.