BONN (Sep. 23)
West Germany’s largest arms manufacturer secretly supplied Iraq in recent months with some of the most sophisticated weapons it produces, the weekly Der Spiegel reported Sunday.
According to the periodical, the giant Messerschmidt Bolkow Blom delivered the advanced weaponry to Iraq before the United Nations imposed its arms embargo in response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on Aug.2.
The firm transferred 10,000 anti-tank missiles and several thousand anti-aircraft missiles to Iraq by way of Egypt, Der Spiegel said. The third country was used in order not to embarrass the West German government, the report said.
The equipment included machinery and materials for the manufacture of gas masks and defensive military equipment by Iraq. But MBB also was developing for Iraq an extremely powerful conventional bomb, which Der Spiegel said compared in strength with a nuclear device.
West Germany has long been known to have helped Iraq develop its military capabilities, especially in the area of chemical warfare. But until now, it was believed only small or medium-sized companies were dealing with the Iraqis.
MBB is a subsidiary of Daimler-Benz, Germany’s biggest industrial group and one of the world’s largest weapons manufacturers.
MBB produces the Leopard Mark V tank, which experts acknowledge to be the best in the world of its class.
Meanwhile, West German prosecutors have decided not to appeal the relatively light sentence imposed on Jurgen Hippenstiel-Imhausen, founder and managing director of a chemical company that helped Libya build a poison gas plant.
The prosecutor who wanted to appeal has been removed from office, according to a report Saturday in the Frankfurter Rundschau.
At the same time, the prosecution decided against trying Imhausen for additional, relatively minor offenses connected with the Libya deal, the newspaper said.
Imhausen, who drew a three-year sentence, is serving it at a Mannheim prison where he is reported to be enjoying extraordinary privileges, including unlimited visitation rights.