Our readers know by now that this blog keeps a watchful eye on Iran’s courting of Germany. Just two weeks ago we posted an update, but events are racing ahead – and the media’s still asleep – so here we go again.
Where else but Germany would a senior member of Tehran’s nuclear negotiating team show up while the sides continue to haggle over the Geneva deal? Indeed, just last week Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi paid a visit to Berlin – ostensibly to appear at a think tank, but as admitted by the German foreign ministry the real purpose was to hold behind-the-scenes talks about the talks.
Just in case Germany’s business community missed the point, its foreign ministry spokesperson also made clear that the Geneva deal includes the partial lifting of sanctions.
In the spirit of rapprochement, Die Welt recently suggested that an end to sanctions and a new era of political stability could revive the old idea of connecting Iran to the trans-Anatolian gas pipeline (TANAP), on which construction began this month. The paper envisions German firms – some of which have never cut ties with Iran completely – taking the lead as possible trading partners with Tehran.
Not surprising. According to Ha’aretz, Germany has been Iran’s most important Western trading partner despite international sanctions, with top mechanical firms – some of which manufacture parts also usable in nuclear plants – doing business with Tehran with German government support. Not only that, but a sizable number of Iranian industrial firms rely heavily on German machinery, including products that can also be used for the nuclear program.
It seems the German business community never really left Iran, despite all the sanctions. Perhaps the media will find time to expose what’s been going on in the rest of Europe as well.