German intelligence reports on Iran's illicit nuclear activities met with silence from European powers

Serious questions have emerged about the International Atomic Energy Agency’s and the European powers’ silence regarding a series of German intelligence reports documenting the Iranian regime’s illegal attempts to obtain nuclear weapons technology as late as 2018.

Emily B. Landau, director of the Arms Control and Regional Security Project at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, told Fox News that the material in the German documents necessitate “confronting Iran with the intelligence and asking hard questions.”

“When will the international powers finally relate to these German intelligence reports that have been coming out periodically, detailing Iran’s continued procurement efforts?” Landau said, adding that “these efforts are not covered in IAEA reports that [nuclear] deal supporters love to quote to prove Iran’s ‘compliance.’’’


The United States withdrew from the 2015 Iran deal because, according to the Trump administration, it would not stop Tehran from building nuclear weapons.

Fox News reviewed a newly published report from the intelligence agency of the German state of Hesse in which officials wrote that "against this background [of proliferation], weapons of mass destruction continued to be a powerful political instrument during the reporting period, which could shake the stability of the entire state structure in both regional and international crisis situations.”

The report noted that “in particular, states such as Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, and Syria attempted to acquire and redistribute such weapons in the context of proliferation, for example by concealing transport routes via third countries.”

Visiting academics from these countries are connected to “proliferation conduct” that is coordinated by intelligence services from those countries, said the report.
“An example of this is the field of electrical engineering combined with the use of centrifuges in the process of uranium enrichment,” the document said. “Here, again and again, there are suspicions that foreign intelligence services put pressure on their own visiting scientists to obtain the desired technical know-how.”


Iran was also named as connected to illicit espionage within Germany’s higher education system.

“Another example of intelligence control is the exchange of research among university institutes in the chemical-biological process sector,” the report reads.

The findings in the Hesse report mirror other German intelligence data that Fox News first reported on in May that the state of Iran is a “country of risk” that is “making efforts to supplement its arsenal of conventional weapons with weapons of mass destruction."

When asked whether the IAEA had reviewed the German intelligence documents, Fredrik Dahl, an IAEA spokesman, responded: “We have no comment.”

Authorities in Hesse were also mum on the subject.

When asked whether the state’s intelligence agency had forwarded its findings to the IAEA, the UN, and the United Nations Security Council, Carsten Rauch, a spokesman for the Hesse domestic intelligence agency, told Fox News: “Beyond the information contained in our annual report, the State Office for the Protection of the Constitution of Hesse cannot provide you with information in the sense of your request.”


Meanwhile, Angela Pley, a spokeswoman for Germany’s federal intelligence agency told Fox News: “The constitutional protection authorities have no knowledge about actual violations by Iran of the JCPOA [the Iran nuclear deal] in Germany. In contrast, the federal and state constitutional protection authorities report in their annual reports on Iran’s proliferation-relevant procurement activities for its missile program, which is not covered by the JCPOA. Against this background, no information was provided to the IAEA, the UN Security Council or the UN.”

The JCPOA is the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal name of the accord that is supposed to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions in exchange for sanctions relief.

Local intelligence reports across Germany appear to contradict Pley’s contention that Iran’s alleged illicit activity is related only to its missile programs. When asked how the federal intelligence agency knew there were no violations of the JCPOA if the IAEA, UN and UN Security Council had not reviewed the intelligence data, Pley did not comment.

Uwe Becker, Hesse state’s commissioner for Jewish life and the fight against antisemitism, told Fox News that German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration and the European Union should pull the plug on the Iran nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions on Tehran.

“The current escalation with Israel should be reason enough for Germany to advocate the ... Iran nuclear agreement, which has been undermined by Iran..., [as] dead, and for the necessary sanctions against Tehran to become effective again in their entirety,” Becker said. “It is not a question of a policy aimed against the Iranian people, who are deprived of important rights to freedom by their own government, but of a clear position directed at the political leadership in Tehran.”


Landau, the arms control expert, said, “First, it is important that this intel be widely published and that it become part of the public debate over Iran, as it indicates that Iran has not complied with its commitment not to work on military nuclear capability, (this in contrast to deal supporters, who claim on basis of IAEA reports since the nuclear deal that Iran has complied fully, and only the US broke its commitment....)

“From my perspective, most important thing at this point is to have it widely known that Iran did not stop everything in 2015 [when the nuclear deal was reached], because the debate in Europe ignores this,” adding, “The point is that it [Iran] has continued these efforts well after signed the JCPOA [was reached].”

Landau noted that the Iran deal “set up a special channel regarding procurement for checking issues of this sort,” that is of the sort detailed in the German intelligence documents. “The problem is that the deliberations there get close to zero attention.”

A follow-up Fox News query to Fredrik Dahl, the IAEA spokesman, as to whether the agency will demand to review the German intelligence data went unanswered.

When asked about the Iran nuclear deal, a spokesman for Merkel’s government referenced a September 23 joint statement from Germany, Britain, and France, that stated: “We recall our continued commitment to the JCPOA, agreed with Iran on July 14th, 2015, and unanimously endorsed by the UN Security Council. We urge Iran once again to reverse its decisions to reduce compliance with the deal and to adhere fully to its commitments under it. We call upon Iran to cooperate fully with the IAEA in the framework of the JCPOA and its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement.”


Last month, the Merkel government promoted and participated in a pro-Iranian regime business forum in Berlin, sparking intense criticism from US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell.

“Iran perpetuates gross human rights abuses against its own citizens, has planned and carried out terror attacks and assassinations on European soil and is facilitating Assad’s war crimes in Syria. Now is not the time to promote business deals that will only send euros to the regime’s coffers at the expense of the Iranian people,” said Grenell, a former Fox News contributor.

The German foreign ministry sent Miguel Berger, the head of its Department of Economic and Sustainable Development, to deliver the greeting at the eighth “Banking and Business Forum Iran Europe” conference in Berlin.

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.