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Germany raises pressure on Iran over nukes

AFP · 19 Feb 2010, 13:45

Published: 19 Feb 2010 13:45 GMT+01:00

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"Our hand is still stretched out ... but the continued defiance towards the IAEA, to UN resolutions and Iran's dangerous policies in general oblige the international community to take the path in New York towards further sanctions against the regime in Tehran," Merkel's spokesman said. "The German government is rigorously taking part in this process."

The comments followed the leaking on Thursday of a report from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN atomic watchdog, expressing concern that Iran might have been trying to develop a nuclear warhead. Merkel's spokesman said the report confirmed Germany's "great concerns."

US President Barack Obama's spokesman said Thursday it continued "to demonstrate the failure of the Iranian government to live up to its international obligations."

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Friday that Iran does not believe in and is not seeking an atomic weapon, state television reported, calling Western allegations "nonsensical." Tehran insists its nuclear activities are for peaceful purposes.

Germany's top two insurers meanwhile, Munich Re and Allianz, on Friday became the latest German firms to announce they pulling out of Iran, both citing what they called the "political situation" there.

For Munich Re, a firm generating close to €40 billion($54 billion) in premiums each year, the loss of an estimated €10 million is small, and an Allianz spokeswoman told AFP that the amount of business it does in Iran was negligible.

But the moves, which followed a similar announcement German engineering giant Siemens last month, have a high symbolic importance since Germany's partners have been pressuring it to put its money where its mouth is and cut its still sizeable business ties with Iran.

Germany, which recently lost its crown to China as the world's top exporter, exported almost €4 billion worth of goods to Iran in 2008, mainly machine tools and industrial equipment, a rise of nearly nine percent.

In the 11 months to November 2009, the latest figures available, exports fell nine percent, a spokesman told AFP last month, but this was less than the 19-percent recession-fuelled slump that Germany recorded overall.

Merkel said in January that German-Iranian trade had "declined considerably" while acknowledging that the two countries had a "long tradition of economic cooperation."

Story continues below…

At the same time Germany is one of six countries negotiating with Tehran over its nuclear programme, along with permanent UN Security Council members the United States, China, Russia, Britain and France.

Berlin has already reduced to a trickle the special export guarantees crucial to companies trading with Iran.

In addition, according to press reports, the German government is applying pressure on chambers of commerce not to organise seminars on Iran or business trips there.

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Your comments about this article

14:57 February 19, 2010 by Prufrock2010
Unfortunately, these proposed sanctions will be vetoed in the U.N. Security Council by China, which is not-so-quietly pursuing its worldwide economic hegemonical agenda while relying on Iranian gas and oil. Furthermore, even if economic sanctions were imposed, it would only benefit and strengthen the Pasdaran, Iran's Revolutionary Guards, who control the traffic of all embargoed goods, machinery and technology into Iran through the port of Dubai. The Pasdaran, as correctly reported in Der Spiegel Online on February 16, 2010, is the controlling government within the government of Iran, and it is also in charge of Iran's developing nuclear program. The Pasdaran is clearly thrilled by the prospects of the imposition of Western sanctions, as evidenced by the escalating provocations coming out of Tehran in recent weeks.

Economic sanctions would backfire badly if imposed. We are rapidly reaching a point where Iran has to be "persuaded" to abandon its ambitions to develop nuclear weapons by more draconian means.
15:35 February 19, 2010 by wenddiver
Don't worry one day after one of these nukes come down in a European city the US will end the Iranian Mullah's nuclear program in a shower of nukes.

That's how this is going to end, due to appeasers tieing everybody elses hands.
16:11 February 19, 2010 by Knight59
I find it hard to believing that Iran would have any peaceful intentions with anything inside their borders.
16:29 February 19, 2010 by escape
Exactly with Prufrock2010 ...

just look at the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Iran , Iran's main import partner is UAE, and let us guess what can be imported from Dubai? (oil?) all the goods which are under the sanction. At first the Pasdaran imports these stuffs to Dubai and then to Iran. China also doesn't obey the western sanction you can add Russia and South Korea to the list. This is barking up the wrong tree! just irritates Iran to develop the nukes.
20:02 February 19, 2010 by Bushdiver
I say less talk and more action. How long is the West going to put up with being led around on a leash by Iran. Give them 30 days to start shut these plants down or they well be shut down by force. Much easier now than waiting until they have nukes.
22:38 February 19, 2010 by lordwilliams629
Oh such strong words, I bet Iran's shaking in their pants.
03:38 February 20, 2010 by Davey-jo
I'm a dinner jacket says F u mate and what U gonna do abart it?
16:51 February 20, 2010 by Major B
I am surprised that at the comments above hint that stronger methods may be needed to deal with Iran. Was expecting the comments to be "they have a right to have nuclear weapons, Israel has nuclear weapons and the U.S. has military forces on both sides of Iran" comments. Maybe, just maybe, the stark reality of Iran's intentions is being comprehended. Keeping my fingers crossed because surely the "let them be" talk will come now.
11:27 February 21, 2010 by Frenemy
Just let them be! Mr. Ahmadinejad said they only want enriched U-235 (85% +) for PEACEFUL purposes! Why don't you believe him? I mean, he has such a trusting face... ;-)

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