Two men charged for Iran missile parts exports

German prosecutors said on Wednesday they have charged two men for exporting equipment to Iran intended for use in making long-range missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

Two men charged for Iran missile parts exports
Photo: DPA

Iranian citizen Mohsen A., 52, and German-Iranian engineer Behzad S., 49, teamed up to buy a furnace used in making warheads and missile guidance systems from an unnamed German firm, federal prosecutors said.

Both men, who were formally charged on March 24 with breaching an EU and US embargo on such materials, “knew that the equipment was meant to be used in the Iranian missile programme,” prosecutors said in a statement.

The United States and European Union suspect that Iran wants to develop nuclear weapons, an accusation Tehran denies.

“Iran has been developing long-range missiles to carry weapons of mass destruction since the late 1990s,” prosecutors said. “In order to get around the export restrictions, Iran gets hold of the technology needed for its missile programme via third party firms.”

Mohsen A., tapped by a “leading employee of Iran’s missile programme,” bought the furnace from the German firm in 2007 for €850,000, telling German customs that he was the final recipient.

The furnace was then shipped to Iran and in March 2008 the German firm began to install it. They stopped work however after learning that Mohsen A. was suspected of working for the Iranian government.

Mohsen A. was arrested in October following a series of raids at commercial and private premises around Germany, and remains in custody, prosecutors said. Behzad S. is currently a free man.

Germany, the world’s number two exporter after China, sold €3.7 billion in goods to Iran in 2009, official figures show, but German firms have cut ties amid unease over Tehran’s nuclear programme and government pressure.

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

In addition, the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has spoken out strongly in favour of fresh sanctions, is applying pressure on business groups not to organise seminars on Iran or business trips to the country, according to media reports.

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.

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Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.