Study Finds 207 Firms in 22 Nations Have Supplied Iraq with Lethal Arms

Some 207 companies in 22 countries — including 86 firms in the former Federal Republic of Germany — have supplied Iraq with chemical weapons and other means of mass destruction over the past decade, the Simon Wiesenthal Center charged in a report released Tuesday.

The report, made public on the eve of Germany’s reunification, singled out the Federal Republic as leading the list of suppliers to Saddam Hussein. Other countries listed include the United States and Great Britain each with 18 firms, followed by Austria with 17, France with 16, Italy with 12 and Switzerland with 11.

The 54-page report, entitled “The Poison Gas Connection,” deals with four types of non-conventional weaponry supplied to Iraq, as well as to Libya: chemical warfare; biological warfare; nuclear technology; and missile and computer technology.

The author of the report is Kenneth Timmerman, identified by Wiesenthal Center officials as a non-Jewish Middle East expert based in Paris, who has been monitoring weapons acquisitions in the region for many years. Most of his data have been culled from open public sources, complemented by intelligence reports.

A key document in the report spells out the names and locations of the 207 companies and the type of military supplies and expertise they have furnished Iraq.

A second document is a report presented to the Bundestag by the West German government in February of last year, which detailed the involvement of German companies in the Libyan chemical weapons program.

“It is unconscionable that 45 years after the Holocaust, we have once again the possibility that German-manufactured canisters will be found at another site of mass murder,” Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Wiesenthal Center, said in presenting the Timmerman report during a news conference.

“How the unified Germany will deal with this scandal will tell the world much about the future course of the ‘new Germany.’”

To halt the supply of critical elements for Iraq’s strategic weapons program, “a line must be drawn, not in the sand but in the corporate board rooms and in the pocketbooks of wealthy corporations,” Hier added.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the center’s associate dean, noted that the Iraqis have become masters of mix-and-match technologies, drawing strategic materials and hardware from the West and meshing them with the technological know-how provided by the former Communist countries of Eastern Europe, particularly East Germany.

Copies of the report are being sent to Western leaders, starting with President Bush and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. Simultaneously, Hier said, the center is launching a grass-roots campaign to pressure Western leaders into adopting policies to “keep these horrific technologies and weapons out of the hands of despots such as Saddam Hussein.”

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