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Bonn Knew of Help on Iraqi Gas, Lied to U.s., New Book Claims

November 30, 1990
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A book scheduled to be published here this week claims that the Bonn government was fully aware of the help German industry was giving Iraq to manufacture poison gas while angrily denying allegations to that effect from several sources, including the U.S. administration.

The book, “Exporters of Death,” was written by two German journalists, Hans Leyendecker and Richard Rickelmann.

They allege that the BND, the former West German counterespionage service, hired as an informer a man, Peter Leifer, who was illegally exporting raw materials to Iraq for the production of chemical weapons.

Leifer was identified as one of three managers of WET, a Hamburg-based company which traded with Iraq.

He has been in custody since August, when international pressure forced Bonn to get serious about the prosecution of individuals who were providing Iraq with the substances, machinery and know-how to produce poison gas.

According to the authors, the BND hired Leifer in 1986, at which time the authorities already had files about his illegal activities. He worked for the Munich-based spy agency for about two years.

Two other WET executives helped Leifer gather and deliver data required by the BND, the book says.

They continued to work for the BND after the prosecution in Darmstadt opened an official investigation into their illegal business.

In 1987, President Richard von Weizsacker of the Federal Republic and Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher intervened with Iraq to pardon another WET executive, Nazar al-Kadhi, who was involved in espionage with Leifer.

Al-Kadhi, who had been under an Iraqi death sentence for espionage, was expelled to Germany.

During this period, frequent allegations that West German firms were helping Iraq produce chemical weapons were denounced by Bonn officials as part of an “anti-German campaign.”

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