BONN (Jun. 23)
Germany has admitted for the first time that it legally contributed to Iraq’s capacity for chemical and nuclear warfare before the Persian Gulf conflict.
Until now, German officials had insisted that whatever German weapons or technology went to Iraq was shipped illegally in violation of the export laws.
But Economics Minister Jurgen Moellmann disclosed Saturday that Germany legally exported to Iraq arms and high-tech products, including some that could be used to manufacture chemical and nuclear weapons.
In his country’s defense, however, he claimed the German arms shipments to Saddam Hussein were far smaller than those of the French or the Americans.
According to the minister, illegal exports remain Germany’s main problem. They continue with “criminal energy,” he said. Germany is seeking an international consensus to define which goods and services may not be exported.
Israel, for its part, has criticized Germany’s insistence on international cooperation in the matter, arguing that it would make for indefinite delays before any action is taken.
Meanwhile, the government’s latest effort to toughen the arms-export laws has been stalled by the Bundesrat’s refusal to approve a clause allowing state prosecutors to tap the telephones and open the mail of suspected violators.