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Cicciomessere Roberto - 8 febbraio 1991
Western suppliers of unconventional weapons and technologies to Iraq and Libya

A Special Report Commisioned by the Simon Wiesenthal Center

Prepared by Kenneth R. Timmerman


Iraq's relationship with Germany goes back a long way. As an ally of the Ottoman Empire during WWI, Germany helped build Iraq's first railroad lines, linking Turkey and Mosul in the north to the Gulf port of Basra in the south. Germany lost its priviledged position in Iraq following the Treaty of Versailles, when Iraq became a British protectorate. But in the late 1960s and 1970s, Iraq's Baathist regime sent scores of scientists and Technicians to West German universities to learn the best of German science. Their principle intrests were mechanical engineering, and chemistry.

One of those students went on to become the head of Iraq's strategic weapons programs. He is German-trained chemist named Dr. Amer Hammoudi al Saadi. Today, Lt. General al Saadi serves as First Deputy Minister of Industry and Military Industrialization, in charge of that Ministry's Military Production Authority (MPA).

He is the father of Iraq's chemical weapons programs and of its ballistic missiles. He is also the mastermind behind Iraq's clandestine procurement programs in the West.

In a May 1989 interview, Amer al Saadi explained that Iraq had been seeking from the very start to acquire manufacturing technology from its strategic weapons programs, to soften the bite of an eventual embargo. "When we wanted things that we could not obtain from the outside for one reason or another, we made them ourselves. I am personally grateful to many of the "no's" we recieved from our arms suppliers. This made us insist, and concentrate our efforts" on the procurement of manufacturing technologies. These efforts, Saadi said, had been so vast and so successful that Iraq now has "export capacity" in certain chemicals, including military black powder. (16)

A fluent German speaker, married to a German wife, Dr. al Saadi naturally turned to West Germany in the early 1980s when Iraq needed to make discreet, large-scale purchases of chemical weapons precursors and the technology to manufacture them in Iraq. In doing so, he was able to draw on his extensive knowledge of that country, its language, and culture.

He was also motivated by a keen appreciation of West German export control laws, which until very recently wer the most lax in the entire Western world.

One early attempt by a West German chemical manufacturer to export CW precursors to Iraq was blocked in 1981, after a tense exchange between the incoming Reagan Administration and the government of then-Chanceller Helmut Schmidt. It involved a company whose very name evokes the darkest days of German history: pharmaceutical giant, I.G. Farben. "These are the same guys who brought us Zyklon B," one former U.S. official who was involved in blocking the sale pointed out.(17) Zyklon B was the gas patented by I.G. Farben and used in Nazi death camps for the extermination of the Jews. Farben also invented Tabun nerve gas in 1937.

On August 22, 1990, German Economics Minister Helmut Haussmann revealed that no fewer than 59 German companies were then under investigation for illicit arms and technology exports to the Middle East, "25 of them specifically involving chemical weapons." (18) Press accounts of West German firms selling strategic technologies to Iraq show that this list is even longer (see Appendix). Over the past year German buisinessmen have been arrested in several cities for their ties to Iraq, companies have been raided, documents seized. This picture beginning to emerge is of a vast Iraqi pillage of the treasures of West German technology, aided and abetted by the West German authorities in their lust to increase the nation's export earnings.

Der Spiegel has reported extensively on the intimate relationship between the export licensing authority at Eschborn (BUNDESAMT FUR WIRTSCHAFT; or BfW) and companies involved in illicit yechnology sales to the Middle East. In its 24 June 1989 issue (24/89), Der Spiegel accused a BfW inspector of working as a paid consultant for a German exporter, Industriewerke Karlsruhe Augsburg (IWKA), to help evade export legislation in order to sell fifteen advanced machine-tools to the Iraqi Military Production Authority in Baghdad. The machine-tools were used to make 155 mm chemical shells for Iraqi field guns.

As a general rule, Spiegel asserts, Eschborn licensing officials saw their role as "helping industry, not hindering it." Dubious exports of this kind approved by Eschborn in recent years have included more than three thousand sophisticated machine-tools sold since 1986 to the Soviet military industries in violation of COCOM rules (19), in-flight refueling probes sold to the Libyan Air Force in contravention of German law (20), nuclear reprocessing technology sold to Pakistan in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (21), chemical weapons delivered to Iraq and Libya, and gas ultracentrifuges capable of enriching uranium for Iraq's nuclear weapons program.(22)

This centrifuge case, which focuses on the H + M Metalform Company of Drensteinfurt, is incredibly the only investigation currently being pusued by the West German authorities invoving nuclear technologies. But published accounts show that several other companies were involved, including the West German nuclear consortium Nukem, and half a dozen speciality steel companies. (23)

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