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Cicciomessere Roberto - 9 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


What follows is a select chronology extracted from the Schauble Report. Interested readers can find the full text in the appendix.

22 April 1980. The BND reports that, with the help of unnamed East and West German experts, Libya is developing a plant for the manufacture of chemical warfare agents as well as a system for using them.."

22 July 1981. The BND reports that Libya remains committed to the production of chemical warfare is currently endeavoring to purchase the basic chemicals needed for this purpose in Italy and Spain.

22 July 1983. The BND reports that Libya has its own plant for the manufactuer of mustard gas which attacks the skin. The plant is said to have started production at the end of 1981. Its location is presumed to be near Abu Khammash...

July 1984. A member of the BND reports...that a former employee of a German company has gone to Libya for one year and earned a great deal of money. It is presumed that he had built a plant for the production of mustard gas next to the Abu Kammash chemicals complex. It is reported that this complex contains a chloride electrolysis facility built by a German company...and it could produce one of the precursors needed for mustard gas.

5 July 1985. The German embassy in Moscow reports on information received from a north-Eastern source indicating that the Imhausen Company in Lahr (proprietor Dr. Hippenstiel) has concluded a contract in Hong Kong to provide supplies for a pharmaceutical project. A state-owned German company is said to be involved...It is said that Libya had been mentioned as the true country of destination.

19 July 1985. The BND replies to the AA (Foreign Minister) saying that no information is available concerning the embassy report.

28 January 1986. The BND reports that the plant for the manufacture of mustard gas in Libya is said to have been constructed under the management of a member of a German company identified by name...Precursors...are thought to have been purchased by bogus Greek, Maltese and British firms, though these have not yet been identified.The chemical Industry Association was then warned to pay particular attention to any sales made via agents from the above-mentioned countries.

7 February 1986. The BND reports from an allied intelligence service according to which 100 tons of sodium flouride may have been shipped from Zeebrugge to Libya on the Panamanian freighter "Capira" at the beginning of October 1985. This is said to involve a German shipping company identified by name.

28 October 1986. The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution(BfV) is requested by an allied intelligence service to supply intelligence on the IBI buisness operation in Frankfurt in the light of its believe that.....................[it] had been commissioned to set up a microbiological research centre in Libya...since there is no apparent terrorist backround, the data is not stored. Other authorities were not informed at the time. A renewed inquiryon 18 August 1987 led to the same treatment of the matter.

22 June 1987. Daily briefing by the BND. According to information from an allied intelligence service, a warfare agents factory is about to be completed near Rabta with a production capacity estimated at 1 to 3 tons of sarin per day.

3 August 1987. The BND confirms from its own intelligence (SPOT satellite pictures) that the new industrial plant near Rabta is most likely the new warfare agents factory.

3 February 1988. The German embassy in Tripoli reports that after questioning representatives of German construction firms investigations have shown that no German companies are involved in the construction of the research facility in Gharyan (Rabta). The supply of equipment has mainly been organized via Switzerland, with German intermediaries and German companies being thought to be involved.

15 March 1988. The Customs Criminological Institute (ZKI) finds out that the IBI company in Frankfurt...is doing buisness with know-how and industrial plants etc.

18 May 1988. The Foreign Ministry [AA] receives a routine level non-paper from the American embassy. It expresses concern over the participation of companies from the Federal Republic of Germany in the supply of chemical facilities to Libya and the re-equipping of Libyan C-130 aircraft to give them mid-air refueling capability:

[The American "non-paper" reads:]

"We understand that several firms from the FRG have provided or facilitated Libya's procurement of equipment...for a probably chemical weapons facility. Among the firms involved in this activity are SiHi GmbH and Co., and Imhausen Chemie GmbH."

15 July 1988. The BND receives information from an allied intelligence service concerning possible supplies from German companies for the construction of a poison gas production plant in Rabta. The firms named are IBI, Pen Tsao and Imhausen.

2 August 1988. The ZKI and BND discuss the involvement of the said companies and conclude for the time being that the ZKI should only undertake preliminary investigations into Imhausen and refrain from ordering a foreign trade and payments investigation by inspectors from the customs authority before further information has been gathered.

21 Sept. 1988. The U.S. embassy hands over to the AA a non-paper, according to which Libya has developed a chemical weapons production capability with outside help, including Western European companies, and is about to begin mass production. The US Administration papers for a stop to any assistance to Libya for the development of its own capability to manufacture and use chemical weapons.

20 October 1988. The Federal Chancellor is briefed for the first time on the information gathered by the intelligence services in relation to Libyan efforts to establish a warfare agents factory...This summary also mentions possible involvement of the German company Imhausen.

2 Nov. 1988. The BND makes contact with an informant who, under certain conditions, is prepared to supply buisness documents of the companies allegedly involved in Rabta.

11 Nov. 1988. The AA presents a written briefing to Federal Minister Genscher for his talks in Washington proposing that he make the following points:

-US evidence provided in October 1988 has been looked into, but so far nothing has been found on Germans or German firms violating the Foreign Trade and Payments Act.

-There is no verified information on the activity of Germans in the Libyan chemical weapons plant. Even if this were the case, the Federal Government would have no effective lever to prevent the mere participation of Germans in such projects.

11 Nov. 1988. The information hands over documents to the BND so that it can check the authenticity of the material he intends to supply.

15 Nov. 1988. At the meeting with Secretary of State Shultz in Washington the Federal Chancellor and foreign Minister Genscher are given evidence by CIA Director Webster on the involvement of German companies, including Imhausen and IBI, in the alleged chemical weapons plant in Rabta.

14 Dec. 1988. ZKI Investigators meet with the informant and receive a file containing documents. The file includes:

-specifications for the Pharma 150 project

-accounts sent by foreign firms to IBI

-miscellaneous correspondence with German and foreign companies concerning Pharma 150

-construction drawings.

However, there is no evidence that violations were committed against the Foreign Trade and Payments Act. In particular, there is no evidence of goods supplied by German firms.

22 Dec. 1988. Meeting with US delegation at the Federal Foreign Office. The US experts present photographic material on the Pharma 150 chemical plant to the German collegues and report on an assembly accident in August 1988. They are convinced that the plant is a chemicalweapons production plant.

2 January 1989. Start of the foreign trade and payments inspection of the Imhausen company by the Freidburg Regional Finance Office (OFD). The public prosecutor's office in Offenburg is informed. It does not believe at this point that thr prerequisites for a formal investigation are met and therefore only start only starts to officially monitor events.


At one point in January 1989, Israeli intelligence officials estimated that the Rabta plant was not capable of producing 42 tons of mustard gas and Sarin nerve agent a day - more than most estimates of Iraq's poison gas production (54). While there is no evidence that Rabta ever reached this level of production, the plant was restarted once the initial uproar died down and produced an initial batch of 30 tons of mustard gas. ABC News reported on March 6, 1990 that the production of nerve and mustard gas had begun once again in late 1989. The State Department confirmed the report at a briefing the next day.(55)

One week after these reports, a mysterious fire was said to have broken out at the Rabta plant. In fact, the fire appears to have been an elaborate hoax dreamed up by Colonel Qaddafi as a means of forestalling an American air strike against the plant. A comparison of SPOT Image photos of the Rabta site taken on March 12, 1990 (before the alleged fire) and on March 18, 1990, showed "no trace of a major fire on any of the principle buildings." (56)

During the visit to Israel on May 13, 1990, Chancellor Kohl's new State Secretary for Intelligence, Lutz Stavenhage, revealed disturbing news. "We have reason to believe that a second plant similar to Rabta is being planned," Stavenhage told newsmen. "We successfully managed to cut that part out in which German companies have been involved." (57) The factory was believed to have been built deep in the desert at Sebha, 650 km south of Tripoli, on the site of the former Otrag missile plant. Der Spiegel reported on May 7, 1990 that Sebha was already up and running and producing napalm, with hydraulic hoists provided by the German industrial equipment giant, Thyssen.


There is nothing particularly brilliant about the way Iraq and Libya have gone about purchasing poison gas and production technology from Western Europe and the United States. They have merely followed and tried true methods employed by arms smugglers everywhere. Smugglers, or "Technobandists" as they are sometimes called, will always seek the weak point in national legislations. One of their favorite techniques is to pit different countries and different enforcement agencies against one other, while they sneak their shipments through in the ensuing chaos.

Forbidden technology shipments have a way of waltzing from country to country, and often covered by an extensive trail of perfectly legal documents and export authorizations. Trade-minded export authorities are loath to reject critical technology exports because they contribute to their nation's positive foreign trade balance. This proven conflict of interest should disqualify such agencies from the export licensing process of strategic goods in the future.

What the cases of Libya and Iraq have shown is that legislation is not enough to prevent this type of critical technology export. Controls of precursor chemicals existed on the books in nearly all the supplying countries. And yet, those chemicals and other technologies got through.

In addition to stricter legislation, what is needed is a will. A will to prevent the proliferation of technologies and precursors which, in the hands of determined Third World leaders, directly contribute to the development of weapons and mass destruction.

Of course, this will require a certain economic sacrifice, however modest. But the price in lost contracts pales in comparison to the astronomical costs of stopping the expansionist drive of leaders like Saddam Hussein.

One editorialist in the French newsweekly L'Express recently called for a "Technological Apartheid" against Third World countries such as Libya and Iraq. He argued that high-tech purchases more often than not resulted from the "megalomaniac desires" of local elites than from any true need of Third World populations. "By refusing to transfer to Third World nations the NEC PLUS ULTRA of its capacity for innovation, the West will infact benefit local populations instead of their elites." (58)

Three distinct technology control regimes already exist: COCOM, which controls strategic technology exports to the former Soviet bloc; MTCR, which controls ballistic technology exports to the Third World; and Non-Proliferation Treaty which controls the spread of nuclear technologies to non-nuclear nations. Despite haphazard efforts in the area of chemical technologies since 1984, no unified control regime now exists, primarily because of pressure from the Third World.

The time has come to envisage setting up such a CW control regime, whose partners would not only include the U.S. and Europe (East and West combined), but major Third World producers such as India, Brazil, and the "dragons" of Southeast Asia.


Editor's note:

This special report has been compiled from open sources and from primary sources in interviews by the author with government officials, industry executives and members of the intelligence community. Only open sources have been disclosed in these references.

(1) Figures for the 1978-87 period (more than $52 billion), taken from the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, WORLD MILITARY EXPENDITURES AND ARMS TRANSFERS, 1988 edition.

(2) Middle East Defense News/Mednews (10, rue de l'Union, 78600 Maisons-Lafitte, France), 3,21/22 (27/8/90); L'Express, Sept.7-13, 1990. The Federal Republic of Germany, prhibited from most foreign arms sales by its Constitution, piggy-backed onto many of the French sales to Iraq through co-production agreements(MBB and Aerospatiale were full partners in the euromissile consortium which marked the HOT, Milan, and Roland missiles). Other West German arms sales to Iraq, such as BO 105 anti-tank helicopters, went through intermediaries in Switzerland, Holland, and Spain.

(3) "Saddam's Secret Arms Ring," BBC PANORAMA, 3/9/90.

(4) This was the case of the AS30L laser-guide air/surface missile from Aerospatiale, used with success against Kharg island in 1985. I t was also the case for the Armat anti-radar missile, which Iraq acquired in 1985 before it had passed qualifications trials for the French Air Force.

(5) Mednews 3,12 (12/4/90)

(6) "Saddam's Secret Arms Ring," BBC Panorama, 3/9/90.

(7) L'Express, Sept 7-13, 1990.

(8) Der Spiegel 33/90.

(9) Mednews 2, 7/8 (9/1/89)

(10) The Salman pak story was first broken by Mednews on January 23, 1989 (Issue 2,9). NBC notes that that two Israeli military bases had previously been infected by exactly the same strain of West Nile Fever as that shipped by the CDC.

(11) Der Spiegel, 33/1990.

(12) Libération, 12/3/84; Sunday Times, 11/3/84; Washington Post, 25/5/88 "Iraq's 13-year Search for Deadly Chemicals."

(13) Mednews 24/10/88.

(14) Herbert Krosney, "Iraq making deadly form of nerve agent," Jerusalem Post, 24/11/86. Krosney was the priciple research for the 1986 BBC Panorama documentary on Samarra.

(15) Libération, 12/3/84. Technipetrol officially denied involvement in the Akashat project.

(16) Mednews 2,15/16 (8/5/89).

(17) Mednews 2,2/3 (24/10/88).

(18) Time Magazine, 10/9/90, p. 34. The Federal Government officially informed the wesr german Bundestag on August 22, 1990 of 12 on-going cases, involving 25 companies, being handled by the various German state prosecutors. An additional 35 cases, involving 34 companies, were being prosecuted by the fiscal authorities.

(19) Mednews 3,7/8 (19/1/90).

(20) Der Spiegel, 26/1/89. This is also treated in the Schauble report reproduced in the Appendix.

(21) Stern, 26/1/89, and Der Spiegel 24/89

(22) Der Spiegel 28/90.

(23) According to Spiegel, in mid-1987, H+H agreed to set up an entire uranium enrichment facility in Taji, Iraq. The transfers were handled through an intermediary in London called Nasr Dependence Meed International, which would appear to be a front company for the sate-owned Nasr Enterprise for Mechanical Industries in iraq, in charge of ballistic missile manufacures within the Military Production Authority. H+H Metalform and Nasr Dependence Meed also procured sophisticated nozzles for ballistic missile motors, which were built by the Leifeld & Co. machine-tool builder in Ahlen, West Germany. Other companies acroos Europe took their share of the business, including the Swiss speciality steel manufacturer, Schmiedemeccanica. And in the United States, nearly a dozen high-tech firms are now under investigation for having provided sophisticated computers and other design tools to Iraqi nuclear procurement rings. (See also Spiegel 33/1990). Today, no one truly knows how far Iraq is from acquiring a nuclear we

apons capability. Estimates range from two to ten years. But one thing is sure: if Iraq does get the bomb, the West will have played a key role.

(24) Mednews 2,2/3 (24/10/88).

(25) Mednews 2,2/3

(26) New York Times, March 30, 1984.

(27) Herbert Krosney, Jerusalem Post, 24/11/86.

(28) Ibid. Krosney reported that these new lines were capable of processing up to 4,000 liters of raw chemicals for poison gas every month.

(29) Norbert Gansel, a Social Democrat member of the German Bundestag, gives a detailed account of how the Kohl government kept Parliament misinformed of the Samarra case, and of missile technology exports to Iraq, in a Parliamentary briefing paper dated 28 October 1989 entitled "Die deutsche Rakentenlucke."

(30)Interview with the authors, 19/9/90.

(31) Stern 10/1/87. Stern initially identified the location of the sarin and Tabun production lines as Samarra, but subsequent accounts agree that it was set up in Fallujah.

(32) BBc Panorama, "Secrets of Samarra", 4/11/86.

(33) Stern 10/1/87.

(34) Stern, 10/1/87.

(35) Quoted by David Ignatius, op cit, from a 1982 broadcast.

(36) This two page-report had th epic title :"Zwischenbericht uber den Stand der staatsanwalkschaftlichen Ermittlungen wegen des Verdachts illegaler Ausfuhren von Ausrustungsteilen zur Produktion chemischer Kampfstoffe im Iraq." Drucksache 11/3762.

(37) The Independent, 6/9/89.

(38) Source: internal DoC documents, made available to Mednews on the condition their source remian anonymous.

(39) Profil,8/5/89; Financial Times, 20/11/89; various editions of Stern and Der Spiegel

(40) Social Democrat Party Parliamentary briefing paper dated 28 October 1989 entitled "Die deutsche Rakentelucke."

(41) Profil, 8/5/89

(42) Alain Friedman, "The Flight of the Condor, Financial Times, 20/11/89) produces a replica of the Consen Group organization chart, reconstructed from internal company documents.

(43) BBC Panorama, 3/9/90.

(44) Sources at the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee said they were investigating a possible conflict of interest that coul prohibit MBB from future U.S. defense contracts.

(45) Hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, March 1, 1989, in Chemical and Biological Weapons Threat: the Urgent Need for Remedies, Washington, DC, 1989.

(46) Wire service dispatches, 14/9/88, and International Herald Tribune,15/9/89.

(47) The New York Times ran an interview with the President of Imhausen-Chemie, Murgen Hippenstiel-Imhausen, in its January 1, 1989 edition.

(48) International Herald Tribune, 4/1/89.

(49) International Herald Tribune, 5/1/89.

(50) Newsweek, 23/1/89.

(51) "How Qaddafi built his deadly chemical plant," Business Week, 23/1/89.

(52) Newsweek, 23/1/89.

(53) Mednews 2,10, 6/2/89.

(54) Business Week, 23/1/89.

(55) International Herald Tribune, 8/3/90.

(56) Statement by Spot Image dated 18/3/90.

(57) International Herald Tribune, 14/5/90.

(58) Jean Villars, "Pour l'Apartheid Technologique," L'Express, 7/9/90.

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