BERLIN (Reuters) - German intelligence agencies have warned German companies that Iran is still trying to circumvent restrictions on the sale of dual-use items for its rocket and missile technology program, according to a document seen by Reuters on Wednesday.
The BfV domestic intelligence agency reminded German firms in the document that sales of certain technologies remained illegal despite sanctions relief triggered by the landmark Iran nuclear deal of 2015.
“It is important to note that Iran continues to pursue an ambitious rocket and missile technology program which is not affected by the sanctions relief,” the document said.
It said the reminder was triggered by “current events” but gave no details.
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel on Monday told reporters that Berlin remains concerned about Iran’s behavior in the Middle East and its missile development program, but stressed that Tehran was sticking to the nuclear agreement.
European countries are scrambling to pull together a package of measures to keep the nuclear deal on track if U.S. President Donald Trump decertifies the nuclear pact. Under that pact, Iran agreed to freeze its nuclear program for 15 years in exchange for sanctions relief.
Trump is expected to declare this week that Iran is not complying with the pact and to unveil a tough new strategy toward Iran.
The BfV document said German intelligence agencies were continuing to investigate “intensively” whether Iran was attempting to circumvent existing regulations to acquire products or know-how in Germany.
It had reported in June that Iran had sharply scaled back efforts to buy items for its nuclear program, but said attempts to buy items for its development program remained unchanged. It gave no details about the number of such attempts.
Germany’s most populous state and its industrial heartland, North Rhine-Westphalia, provided details in its own intelligence report for 2016 that was released on Tuesday.
It said it had detected 32 attempts to buy equipment that were probably or definitely proliferation-related in 2016, down from a record 141 attempts seen a year earlier. Most of those attempts were related to Iran’s missile program, although some were also linked to Pakistan, it said.
The lion’s share of the cases did not result in delivery of any equipment because state intelligence officials were able to warn companies in time, or companies recognized suspicious inquiries.
It said Iran used a variety of front companies to acquire items, often sending goods through Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and China.
Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Gareth Jones