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Iran Aims to Expand WMD Program, German Intel Agency Concludes

German report refutes Iranian claims that Islamic Republic has no interest in developing nuclear weapon

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• April 26, 2021 3:01 pm

Iran sought to produce and source weapons of mass destruction as recently as 2020, efforts that are likely ongoing, according to a new intelligence report issued by a German government security agency.

Iran is working to expand its "conventional arsenal of weapons through the production or constant modernization of weapons of mass destruction," according to a German-language report issued last week by the Bavarian Office for the Protection of the Constitution, a state security agency equivalent to the FBI. The report, which covers the year 2020 and was independently translated for the Washington Free Beacon, provides the firmest evidence to date that Iran is misleading the world about the nature of its nuclear program.

As the Biden administration works to reenter the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran and unwind tough economic sanctions on the country, Tehran continues to claim that its nuclear program is peaceful in nature. The Islamic Republic, however, recently began enriching uranium, the key fuel in a nuclear weapon, to levels reaching 60 percent purity, which is only used for an atomic bomb. The country also continues to build and test ballistic missiles, which are primarily used to carry a nuclear payload over great distances.

The findings contained in the German intel report directly refute claims by Iran's leaders that the country has no interest in building a nuclear bomb. It is unclear how the report could influence discussions with Iran, which include the United States and Germany. The State Department did not respond to a request for comment on the report and Iran's proliferation activities. Germany's government under Chancellor Angela Merkel has been one of the leading proponents of the nuclear accord and reopening business ties with Iran.

"In order to obtain the necessary know-how and corresponding components," Iran sought to establish business contacts with German companies operating in the high-tech field, according to the report's section on proliferation. Iran is likely skirting U.S. and international sanctions to source these materials.

Although the Biden administration has expressed a willingness to unwind sanctions as part of a revamped nuclear deal, most of them remain in place. Iran has a history of secretly working around U.S. sanctions in order to obtain the technology needed to fuel its nuclear research program. Tehran has run similar operations to bypass sanctions on its oil trade, a primary source of revenue for the hardline regime.

The German report additionally found that Iran is waging sophisticated espionage activities in the country. Germany is one of several European countries where Iranian spies are known to operate.

"Germany remains in the focus of intelligence activities," the report concludes. "This includes information from foreign and security policy as well as business and science."

Iran's intelligence services also are engaged in "the observation of and fight against opposition groups, domestically and abroad," according to the report, which shows that Iran's leadership continues to prioritize the surveillance of regime opponents living outside of the country.

The German report further notes that North Korea, Syria, and Pakistan engaged in similar WMD efforts.

Benjamin Weinthal, a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said the German intelligence agency's findings reinforce "what has been revealed in scores of German intelligence reports each year after the woefully inadequate Iran nuclear deal was reached in 2015: Iran's regime continues to seek technology for its goal to build a nuclear weapons device and expand its conventional missile arsenal."

Weinthal added that "Merkel has ignored these disturbing findings from her own intelligence agencies." Rather, the chancellor "favors the Iran nuclear deal to advance her country's business deals with Tehran's rulers."

"If Germany is serious about the business of guaranteeing Israel's security, Middle East stability, and fighting Iran's state-sponsored eliminatory antisemitism targeting Israel, it would block any concessions to Iran's regime at the Vienna-based Iran talks," Weinthal said.