Merkel raps gas deal with Iran


German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticized a major gas deal between a German firm and Iran.

A government spokesman, Thomas Steg, told the Associated Press Wednesday that Merkel said she expected more tact from German firms regarding trade with Iran.

It was announced last week that Germany’s Federal Agency for Economics and Export Control had given its approval to a deal worth $156 million to the Steiner-Prematechnik-Gastec company. SPG-Steiner is to apply its unique method of turning gas into liquid fuel at three plants in Iran.

Though the deal is legal under laws that ban certain kinds of trade with Iran, the company ought to feel a “moral duty” to forfeit the deal, given the “sensitive conditions regarding trade with Iran,” Steg said. But the firm cannot be forced to drop the contract.

Steg also told AP that German industry leaders had expressed frustration that firms elsewhere, including in the United States and France, continue to do business with Iran.

Negative reactions to the Steiner-Iran deal have come from the Israeli government and such international organizations as the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Mideast Freedom Forum. Israel’s ambassador to Berlin, Yoram Ben Zeev, reportedly asked Merkel to order that the deal be rescinded.

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