Germans Promise Tough Sanctions on Firms Exporting Chemical Arms

The federal government here will severely punish West German firms illegally exporting chemical warfare equipment and technology.

The weekly Welt Am Sonntag reported Sunday that the government will present a bill in Parliament on Feb. 15 to allow it to confiscate the profits from such illegal sales.

In addition, the maximum prison term for offenders will be increased from three to five years and the fine raised from a half million to one million marks (approximately $540,000).

These developments came on the heels of the government’s belated acknowledgment that it was aware that German firms were helping the Libyans build a chemical plant with weapons potential at Rabta, south of Tripoli.

Aides to Chancellor Helmut Kohl said Sunday that West Germany was consulting with the United States and its other allies on how to ensure that the Libyan plant will never produce poison gas.

The Germans are anxious to avoid an American air strike at the plant, something ex-President Reagan spoke of publicly during the final weeks of his administration.

Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher disclosed that he has enlisted the help of Spanish Foreign Minister Francisco Fernandez Ordonez to propose a “European Community initiative” to block the spread of chemical weapons.

Fernandez Ordonez is currently chairman of the E.C. Council of Ministers.

The German leaders are convinced the Rabta plant still does not have the capability to produce chemical weapons.

Kohl assured Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres of that during his four-day official visit earlier in the month. He gave the same assurances last week to Edgar Bronfman, president of the World Jewish Congress, with whom he also met.

Meanwhile, Imhausen Chemic, a company in the southern German city of Lahr that was deeply involved with the Libyan plant, has been ousted from the Frankfurt-based West German Chemical Industry Association.

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