Germany wary of Iran's nuclear, missile procurement efforts

AP News
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Posted: Jul 08, 2016 9:55 AM

BERLIN (AP) — Germany's foreign ministry said Friday it is closely watching Iran's attempts to procure nuclear and missile technology, after German intelligence agencies reported dozens of cases last year.

Germany's domestic intelligence agency said last month that Iran's nuclear procurement efforts in the country remained "at a quantitatively high level" in 2015 and attempts to acquire missile technology showed an "upward trend." A separate report by the domestic intelligence agency for North Rhine-Westphalia, published Monday, stated that counter-espionage officials had spotted 141 procurements attempts in the state last year — twice as many as in 2014.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said Friday that the intelligence report made for "unpleasant" reading, but noted that it covered a period before a landmark deal with Iran came into force on Jan. 16, 2016. Under that agreement, Tehran pledged to cap its nuclear activities in return for the lifting of international sanctions.

Schaefer said that Germany and its partners would work to ensure Iran abides by the agreement signed in Vienna last July.

"We are already talking to our partners in New York and elsewhere, and we won't hesitate to discuss this with Tehran," he said.

Referring to Iran's ballistic missile testing last fall, Schaefer said it could be the result of political infighting inside the country.

"There are considerable forces which can exert power on the domestic structures in Iran and for whom the policies of the president and the foreign minister are a thorn in their side," he said.

"They may be tempted to try to undermine and torpedo the Vienna agreement on the nuclear program and the resulting normalization of relations with us and the West as a whole."