Syria chemical attack rockets ‘Made in Germany,’ report says

The rockets used in the recent chemical attacks in Syria that poisoned dozens of civilians, including children, were “Made in Germany,” Bild reports.

Following the attacks in East Ghouta, a suburb outside Damascus with a population of 400,000, the remains of Iranian 107-millimeter rockets with the company logo of Krempel and the product signature “Made in Germany” were found at the sites, Bild reported Monday.

The chlorine attacks, which happened January 22 and February 1 and rescue workers say were launched by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, came after the German government’s Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (BAFA) green-lighted a deal for the company Krempel, located near the southern city of Stuttgart, to sell military applicable technology to two Iranian firms in Tehran, the paper reported.

“As Iran’s largest European trading partner, Germany must use its economic leverage to pressure Tehran, not enable it to destabilize the Middle East. By chanting the slogan ‘Let Syria Be, Do Something for Me’ Iranian protesters have made it clear that they don’t support the mullahs’ meddling in Syria. Berlin now has a historic opportunity to side with ordinary Iranians, who desire normal and stable relations with the world,” Peter Kohanloo, the president of the U.S.-based Iranian American Majority organization, told Fox News.

Rainer Westermann, a consultant for Krempel, confirmed to Fox News the sale of the technology “Pressspan PSP-3040,” an insulating material with a cellulose base, to the Iranian companies. The “Made in Germany” technology was discovered by the Syrian photographer Firas Abdullah at the site of the chemical attack.

The two Krempel business partners in Iran are Reza Moghaddam Panah and Mahmood Hasan Darvish Commerce. Krempel engaged in a yearly business of $184,000 with the Iranian companies.

It is unclear if the Iranian companies are owned by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The U.S. government classified the IRGC as a terrorist entity in October.

Bild worked with the research of the human rights group, Syrians for Truth and Justice, and the online investigative journalist website Bellingcat to expose the shocking evidence of “Made in Germany” technology used in alleged Syrian and Iranian regime war crimes. Eliot Higgins, from Bellingcat, told Bild both gas attacks showed that “the rockets were produced in 2016 and delivered from Iran.”

Westermann said Krempel obtained a letter from the German export control agency (BAFA) in January 2015 stating there was no restriction for delivering the material to Iran.

Krempel, which has a U.S. distribution center, said the company has “frozen” business with the two Iranian companies until BAFA clarifies the situation. Westermann said the company is “shocked” that its material was used in chemical warfare. He said, however, that if Krempel cuts ties with its Iranian companies other businesses will deliver goods to Iran.

Chemical weapons are widely considered potent weapons for terrorists and state-sponsors of terrorism, like the Islamic Republic of Iran, because they are inexpensive and cause widespread destruction and fear.

The documentary filmmaker Potkin Azarmehr, who made the film “Breathing Death—Chemical Weapon,” told Fox News that “It seems Germans never learn from the past. This will be another dark chapter in their history, starting with the Nazi extermination camps, selling chemical weapons to [Iraqi President] Saddam [Hussein] and now playing a role in the atrocities against innocent civilians in Syria.”

Germany’s BAFA office sent a statement to Fox News flatly denying the Bild report that BAFA approved Pressspan PSP-3040 as a dual-use technology, which can be used for military and civilian purposes. BAFA wrote that the delivery of the Krempel goods deals with a “standard material that can be inserted, among other things, in electric machines.”

Julian Röpcke, the political editor and Syria expert who authored the story for Bild, told Fox News that BAFA’s statement has “major shortcomings.”

He said, “While the statement claims that there are no indications the materials -- allowed by BAFA to be exported to Iran -- could be used in the construction of rockets or be further exported to be used ‘in connection with chemical weapons,’ reality on the ground proved quite the opposite."

Röpcke added, “Instead of acknowledging that the German-built parts were used in Iranian rockets to gas children in Syria, BAFA stuck to its standard manual, alleging that the exported product was ‘neither in military good nor a dual-use good’ -- just as if there were no new developments which entirely contradict that claim.”

“It seems Germans never learn from the past. This will be another dark chapter in their history, starting with the Nazi extermination camps, selling chemical weapons to [Iraqi President] Saddam [Hussein] and now playing a role in the atrocities against innocent civilians in Syria.”

- Potkin Azarmehr, documentary filmmaker

Fox News reported in October that a German intelligence report lists Iran as a nation that engages in proliferation, which is defined as “spreading atomic, biological or chemical weapons of mass destruction.”

Iran made nearly 40 attempts in 2016 to obtain nuclear and missile technology in Germany, according to domestic intelligence reports in Germany.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration referred a Fox News press inquiry to BAFA’s statement.

Marjan Keypour, the founder of Alliance for Rights of All Minorities (ARAM-Iran), which promotes equal rights for Iran's women, LGBT, religious and ethnic minorities, told Fox News Iran’s support of Assad’s war shows that “This is yet another treasonous operation that crystallizes how the government puts its genocidal ambitions ahead of the wellbeing of its own people.”

Keypour said that “In their ongoing protests in the past six weeks, they have been expressing their frustrations with growing economic pressures. When they chant ‘not Syria, not Lebanon, I would give my life for Iran,’ they are begging their government to fight for them as vigorously as they fight against the innocent people of Syria.”

She added that dire economic straits in Iran mean that “families that must make unimaginable choices between sale of their organs or offering their prepubescent children to prostitution or marriage for short-term survival. Ultimately, one day their government will have to own up to their actions and answer the people.”

The German-based NGO Stop the Bomb on Wednesday called on Chancellor Merkel to confront the Islamic Republic’s jingoism. “The Iranian regime must face consequences for its policy of terror abroad,” wrote Stop the Bomb. The human rights group urged Merkel to expel Iran’s ambassador to Germany and slash all funds for Iran’s regime.

Germany finances the Islamic Community of Shiite Communities since 2016 with more than nearly $503,000 from EU and federal funds, said Stop the Bomb, adding that the German government “supports the association despite the fact that they know that the chairman of the organization belongs to the political-religious establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Benjamin Weinthal reports on human rights in the Middle East and is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow him on Twitter @BenWeinthal