In the first speech by a German chancellor to the Knesset, Angela Merkel earned Israel’s respect in March by insisting that Iran’s nuclear program must be stopped and that, if necessary, “Germany will push for further sanctions.”
Oh, really? It now turns out that only a month earlier, Germany’s Export Control Office had given the green light for a €100 million ($157 million) gas deal with Iran. Business interests, it seems, trump any proclaimed concerns for Israel’s security.
Berlin’s refusal to use its considerable economic leverage over Tehran puts it at odds not only with Washington but increasingly with its European partners in London and Paris. Following February’s export approval, SPG Steiner-Prematechnik-Gastec will build three plants that turn gas to liquid fuels in the Islamic Republic, the Siegener Zeitung reported last week. Ms. Merkel’s assurance that Israel’s security is “nonnegotiable” is further put in doubt by the fact that her party colleague, Hartmut Schauerte, had been pushing the Export Control Office to speed up the process.
The Export Control Office denies to us that any political interference took place but the company, which is located in Mr. Schauerte’s electoral district, seems to disagree. Without him, “there would have been nothing,” SPG owner Bernd Steiner told the Siegener Zeitung. “We’d still be waiting.”