German business mission headed to Tehran, says Iran media

Sanctions still in place, but reps from Siemens, Mercedes, Volkswagen said to be en route to Islamic Republic for trade talks

Siemens office building in Munich-Giesing (Wikimedia Commons, Rufus46 CC BY-SA 3.0)
Siemens office building in Munich-Giesing (Wikimedia Commons, Rufus46 CC BY-SA 3.0)

Less than a week after the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers was signed on Tuesday, a German delegation of top energy and other industry officials is scheduled to visit Iran, an Iranian news agency reported on Friday.

According to an unconfirmed report in Fars News, the delegation will arrive in Tehran to discuss economic ties with Iranian officials and will include representatives from industrial giants including Linde, Siemens, Mercedes-Daimler and Volkswagen. The Iranian news agency quoted Iran’s Oil Ministry Director General for Europe, US and Caspian Countries Hossein Esmayeeli as announcing the arrival of the Germans in the country.

The delegation will include 60 members and will be led by Berlin’s Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, Fars reported.

The report further claimed that German companies have urged their government to boost efforts to promote trade relations with Iran in the wake of the lifting of sanctions expected as part of the nuclear deal.

The 10-year accord is aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for gradually lifting punishing international sanctions on Tehran and releasing billions of dollars into the Iranian economy.

Opponents of the deal, including Israel, argue that Iran is likely to use the newly released funds to boost its state sponsorship of terrorism worldwide, and not to boost the flailing Iranian economy.

Harsh criticisms have also been leveled at the inspections mechanism in the deal, by which Iran has 24 days’ notice to prepare for an inspection at a suspect site.

Germany has the strongest economy in the European Union and has enjoyed in the past extensive trade ties with Iran. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal from April 2011, Siemens continued to do business with Iran, citing old contracts with Iranian companies despite pressure on the multinational to withdraw from the Islamic Republic.

In the fiscal year of 2010, Siemens, an industrial conglomerate which in 2014 reached total revenue exceeding $70 billion, increased business in Iran alone by more than 20 percent, reaching almost $1 billion in revenue there. Its business in the then-increasingly isolated pariah state was on a consistent rise despite international efforts to impose sanctions meant to pressure Iran to abandon its nuclear aspirations.

Siemens insisted that all of its businesses with Iran relied on past contracts and focused on industries not included by the sanctions.

The Stuxnet virus, which wreaked havoc in Iranian computers controlling centrifuges used to enrich uranium (part of the process required to distill the ore to fissile material-grade) and whose authorship was attributed to Israeli hackers working in cooperation with the US, attacked programmable logic controllers manufactured by Siemens.

The company’s healthcare division today still cites an active business partner in Tehran on its website.

UN sanctions against Iran are still in place and are expected to remain so until the agreement is fully implemented.

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