Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
July 31, 2008

The German 'Gas Deal' with Iran

The Jerusalem Post is miffed about a German 'gas deal' with Iran.

A parliamentary state secretary in German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet appears to have acted illegally in influencing the country's Export Control office (BAFA) to approve a €100 million-plus deal for liquefied natural gas with Iran.
Critics charge Germany with not stepping up the pressure to restrict trade to Iran, and affirm its historical responsibility to secure Israel's existence. Iran's genocidal policy toward Israel is testing, for many Israelis, Germany's commitment to the Jewish state.

Germany's 'historic responsibility to secure Israel's existence'? That's a new concept to this German dude but anyway.

Laura Rozen links to the JP and asks:

German gas deal with Iran illegal? One would think this would be a subject Senators and Congressmen and the pro Israel lobby might make a stink about. If sanctions fail, military action becomes more likely. But as one trade lawyer told me, "As usual for Germany, business takes precedence."

Baloney. It is the law that takes precedence.

The are no sanctions against Iran's oil and gas industry.

Neither the UN sanctions nor EU sanction against Iran are targeting exports or imports with the Iranian oil and gas industry. There is no international or national law relevant in Germany that forbids such exports. There is no legal base to deny any company the right to export equipment to Iran. That is 'free trade' in the best sense.

Here is what happened.

The German engineering company Steiner Group got into a contract with some Iranian company  to deliver three plants to liquefy natural gas. It is a big contract of €100 million, four times the normal annual turnover of Steiner. The plants will mostly be build in Germany, shipped to Iran and set up there by the Steiner-Group engineers. There are no possible nuclear or weapon proliferation issues with such plants.

A year ago the company requested a routine export clearance from the German Federal Office of Economics and Export Control. It expected no struggle, but the clearance was delayed and delayed again.

Finally the company contacted their local parliamentarian, Mr. Hartmut Schauerte. They were lucky as Schauerte is also a member of the administration. He is parliamentary state secretary in the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology. The export control office is, as its own website says, "subordinated to the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology  (BMWi)."

The BMWi ministry's org-chart (pdf) says Schauerte:

Represents the Minister in the political arena and provides the Minister with policymaking support, particularly on small and medium-sized enterprises and bureaucracy reduction; Federal Government Commissioner for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises

With a turnover of €25 million a year, Steiner-Group is a 'medium sized enterprise'. So Schauerte did what he is supposed to do. He woke up the bureaucrats in an office subordinated to the ministry he is helping to lead and told them to do their job.

The export control office had no legal base to deny the export clearance and in the end had to issue it.

Now the bureaucrats seem to be a bit pissed, lamenting about 'independence' towards the Jerusalem Post.  They are in fact not independent but subordinated to the ministry. Their job is to make timely decisions on a legal base. There is no legal base to deny the export clearance for liquefaction plants to Iran. When the bureaucrats did not do what they were supposed to do, the relevant secretary in the ministry intervened.

There was certainly nothing illegal in this.

The Merkel government could of course introduce a law that forbids such exports to Iran. But then the German parliamentarians would have to be asked to vote for higher unemployed and less export profits. They and their voters are not inclined to do or allow such only to appease Israeli paranoia.

Posted by b on July 31, 2008 at 18:13 UTC | Permalink


Seems unlikely this deal would go through w/out approval by Iran6. The deal seems concessionary. Iran gives up nuclear for gas.

Posted by: slothrop | Jul 31 2008 18:58 utc | 1

In other words this deal will put to the test Iran's bullshitty claim that nuclear is intended only for energy.

Posted by: slothrop | Jul 31 2008 19:00 utc | 2


nuclear energy was never intended solely for energy, even in the West: the nuclear arsenal requires a steady supply of plutonium to build bombs. What better source then using the by-products of nuclear generating?

Posted by: ralphieboy | Jul 31 2008 19:27 utc | 3

@sloth - liquefied natural gas in Iraq can have two purposes.

1. Export, which would not balance in country energy needs.

2. Local transport as Iran is the first nation to really shift to natural gas to drive vehicles.

The capacity of the three plants will be 10,000 barrels each. Too small to make a difference of general energy supply. Iran needs nuke reactors or huge investment in alternatives to feed its needs (take a look at the population growth rate.)

They decided to include nuclear because, as ralphieboy say, it gives additional options. Brazil and Argentine, Germany, Japan and the Netherlands did so too.

Posted by: b | Jul 31 2008 19:45 utc | 4

Billmon's back.

Posted by: furrythug | Jul 31 2008 19:54 utc | 5

Sorry ... tagged...

Billmon's back.

Posted by: furrythug | Jul 31 2008 19:55 utc | 6

Slight hypocrisy. Israel, of course, gets most of its oil from Iran (via Rotterdam):

Posted by: johnf | Jul 31 2008 21:22 utc | 7

today exxon mobil posts 2nd quarter net profit of $11.68 billion & royal dutch shell £11.56 billion

tomorrow they'll return to explaining to us how they really don't have any control over the rising price of oil

Posted by: b real | Jul 31 2008 22:58 utc | 8

@ralphieboy: it's worse than you think. Plutonium production was way too important to leave to the civilians. Civilian nuclear power ran a distant third priority behind nuclear explosives and nuclear boats. The plutonium from civilian reactors was never necessary, there were reactors at Hanford that produced no electricity, dumped all energy/heat into the river, and were tuned for weapons plutonium production.

There was a program in the late 1960s for a "molten salt" reactor involving no plutonium, solely useful for electricity production or burning transuranics like plutonium, with much much less waste, running on thorium... but it was killed in the early 1970s after running briefly. Its main proponent, Alvin Weinberg of Oak Ridge, immediately wrote an article in Science on the global warming effects of freezing nuclear until 2010 and building out coal plants instead - in 1974. Thorium energy is now being resurrected in various guises, but only outside of the US so far - google "thorium energy".

The undesirability of the thorium fuel cycle for weapons would be a great nonproliferation boon right about now.

Posted by: boxcar mike | Aug 1 2008 2:46 utc | 9

NeoZi.con "exceptionalism" is just the reverse folio of Mein Kampf.

How ironic that the victims of Nazi Holocaust would come to be ruled
by Zionist exceptionalists, no different from their fascist forebears.
How ironic that the "Greatest Generation" would come to be ruled by
Zionist exceptionalists, who have turned America into Greater Israel.

Israel has their Palestine, America has their Iraq, a Wehrmacht training ground.
Cowboys and Indians, KKK and Coloreds, America was always a fascistocracy.
We were the exceptionals, in our corduroy knickers and monogrammed white shirts,
trala-ing off to all-white day school, playground and Oreo cookies with milk in front of the all-White-and-Jewish TV of Howdie Dootie and Kaptain Kangaroo.

So why should it surprise anyone that the NeoZi.con's who destroyed Iraq over
Saddam's $25,000 jihad bounty program, would seek to destroy Iran over their
jihad call to wipe the scourge of fascist apartheid Zionism off the world map?

Boxcar Mike, it's WAY worse than you think. The revival of Federal Nuclear Power
is just another arm of the war profiteering Octopus, the Long Dark Night of DHS.
American nuclear is so corrupt, the only way it can be built is on the tax dole. And unlike Japan and France, what they don't tell you, our uranium cycle in
the US is based on dumping, at taxpayer expense for 200,000 years, their radwaste.

Every lightbulb lit by American nuclear power is a golum furnace burning our taxes.
Golum because it's gaping maw is open without end, without sunset, for all eternity.
Nuclear power is Perpetual Corporate-State Fascism in it's most perfect incarnation.

Posted by: Perfect Incarnation | Aug 1 2008 4:48 utc | 10

the real meaning of 'jihad' outside of fascist speech is something like:

we have to get closer to the essence of live
beware it takes courage and strife

Posted by: antonymous | Aug 1 2008 9:06 utc | 11

Israel criticises German firm's deal with Iran

BERLIN, July 31 (Reuters) - Israel said on Thursday it was disappointed by Germany's decision to allow a German firm to export gas plants to Iran, saying it contravened the spirit of world powers' sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme.

Germany's BAFA Federal Office of Economics and Export Control approved plans by a German company to export three liquefied natural gas plants to Iran in February, the German Economy Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

It said the plants did not fall under any category of goods banned from export.
Germany's Economy Ministry said: "There was no legal possibility to deny the export."

A German source said the deal concerned engineering firm Steiner Prematechnik Gastec GmbH.

Posted by: b | Aug 1 2008 10:10 utc | 12

The world needs to tell Israel and Israeli officials to STFU whenever they start whining about Iran's nuclear energy program. Israel has refused to join the Non Proliferation Treaty so that it can keep its own nuclear arsenal that threatens everyone in the region (including most of Europe). Israel therefore has no standing whatsoever on the matter of Iran's compliance or noncompliance with obligations under that treaty.

Posted by: arch | Aug 1 2008 17:56 utc | 13

Well, still no US State Dept condemnation of Steiner Gruppen/Germany.

Too bad. Could have fit in to the whole "decoupling" narrative.

Posted by: slothrop | Aug 2 2008 3:02 utc | 14

Germany has histrically been Iran's major trade/business partner. One of the best kept secrets, mainly in the US mairstream media, about Iran is that country is going through one of the biggest privatization of the state-owned enterprises program in the Middle East. Iran is privatizing whole industries including petrochemical plants, the banking sector, etc. Add to thise the updated foreign investment regulations that allows, get this, 100% foreign ownership and the right to take all profits out of the country by the investors. Boy, Iran has put so much red meat "on the table" that the Euro-boys-and-girls can't hide their keen interest to keep the trade going with Iran. The US has locked itself out of big "deals" and that's why the US is pressuring its EU "allies" not to stretch too much into the cookie jar, maybe until the new "Interest Section" is opened in Tehran and some deals can be "negoitated". According to this scenario, happy days are here again. Bottom line, Israel can ONLY have any say about the Iran's relationships WHEN it can supply as much oil and gas as Iran. Until then Israel stikc to cashing the checks the American tax payers are sending them year in and year out. And SFUP.

Posted by: InstantNoodle | Aug 5 2008 4:27 utc | 15

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