German Intel Says Iran Attempting to Obtain Illegal Nuclear Material

Iran nuclear
An Iranian technician walks through the Uranium Conversion Facility just outside the city of Isfahan / AP

German intelligence officials declared in a new document that Iran has deployed a "clandestine" effort to obtain illegal nuclear technology and equipment from German companies after signing the Iran nuclear deal.

Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, charged in its annual report released last week that Iran defied the nuclear pact it struck with the United States and five other world powers last summer by continuing to build up its missile stockpile and acquire nuclear-related material.

The 317-page report said Iran in 2015 was attempting to acquire the illicit weapons technology at "a quantitatively high level," even by international standards.

"It is safe to expect that Iran will continue its intensive procurement activities in Germany using clandestine methods to achieve its objectives," the document said.

A separate report released by the intelligence agency this week said it had tracked 141 attempts to obtain technology for proliferation purposes last year, with two-thirds linked to Iran. The document also described efforts by Iran to acquire such technology through third countries, including China, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates, and to falsify documents to make the material appear like it was meant for the oil, gas, and steel industries.

German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said Friday that Berlin expected Iran to adhere to the United Nations Security Council’s resolution that regulates arms transfers. He added that forces in Iran opposed to the nuclear agreement could be responsible for the efforts to obtain nuclear technology.

"There are forces within Iran for which the policies of the country’s president and foreign minister are a thorn in the eye," Schaefer said. "They may be trying, one way or another, to undermine or torpedo the nuclear deal and the normalization of relations between us and Iran. We are watching this closely."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told parliament Thursday that Iran’s ballistic missile launches earlier this year violated the UN anti-missile regulations that bar Tehran from working on missiles designed to carry nuclear weapons for eight years.

"Iran continued unabated to develop its rocket program in conflict with the relevant provisions of the UN Security Council," Merkel said.

Tehran must get permission from a UN Security Council panel to obtain "nuclear direct-use goods," but did not do so to purchase the nuclear-related items in Germany, according to German intelligence.

President Obama inked the historic Iran nuclear accord last July. The pact is intended to limit Tehran’s nuclear program to prevent the country from obtaining nuclear weapons in exchange for about $100 billion in sanctions relief.