For the last few years, my colleague, Dr. Shimon Samuels, the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Director of International Relations has been closely following European companies' links to Iran from his office in Paris. In fact, he wrote to hundreds of companies that we exposed in the early 1990s empowering Saddam Hussein with dual-usage technology, to learn what if anything had changed in their corporate behavior in a decade. Recent developments confirm that at least for one key company -- not much!
Earlier this week we met in Berlin for a series of meetings with officials and human rights activists. The main topic was Iran -- it's high-powered rush to nuclearization, the human rights drama unfolding on the streets of Tehran and what if anything, short of force can be done to bring about behavior-if not-regime change: The universal answer was: tougher, much tougher economic sanctions against the Mullahtocracy's Military Industrial Complex. Such moves, much debated at the United Nations and the European Union (EU), are now being pushed by the Obama Administration, France and the UK, but vigorously opposed by China, now has the backing of German Chancellor Merkel earlier this week, announced at a historic joint meeting of the German and Israeli Cabinets in the German capital.
At dinner Tuesday at the Berlin's Jewish Community Center, I watched and listened to a young German, Michael Spaney, as he and his colleague described their STOP THE BOMB organization's game plan to help thwart Tehran from obtaining nuclear weaponry.
Not 48 hours later Spaney, distributed fliers to 3,500 stockholders who were attending Thyssen/Krupp, annual stockholder meeting. STOP THE BOMB claims that 4.5 percent of the company's stocks is owned by the Iranian regime. The Jerusalem Post reported the company confirmed that the engineering conglomerate conducted some €200 million in trade last year with Iran.
German corporations such as ThyssenKrupp have ignored Merkel's pleas to stop doing business with Iran as part of her administration's non-binding "discouragement strategy."
Mr. Spaney rose to microphone at the stockholder's meeting to ask point blank if ThyssenKrupp "is certain that its projects are not tied to the Revolutionary Guards." The European Parliament is currently debating a Dutch proposal to put the Revolutionary Guards on the European Union terror list. The Dutch Parliament, reports The Jerusalem Post, justified its resolution by citing the Revolutionary Guard's role in violently repressing the Iranian population and financing radical Islamic terror organizations, such as Hamas and Hezbollah.
Ekkehard D.Schulz, CEO of ThyssenKrupp, replied that the company "is not aware of involvement with the Revolutionary Guards" but is "dealing with construction companies" in Iran.
According to a spokesman, subsidiaries of the parent corporation are involved in the "chemical, systems engineering, cement [and] railway" sectors. Uhde and Polysius, both subsidiaries of ThyssenKrupp, are building cement and chemical plants in Iran. ThyssenKrupp delivered a "container ship" to Teheran, the spokesman added.
Political leaders like Chancellor Merkel and human rights campaigners like Michael Spaney are living proof of how far democracy has brought Germany since the horrors of the Nazi Third Reich. And business leaders like Thyssen/Krupp CEO Shulz are examples of how much further Germany has to to go... Regarding the "support of a anti-Semitic and terror regime in Iran, it is not ThyssenKrupp's responsibility to issue a statement," sniffed the head of a company that in World War II used over 10,000 slave laborers and whose president during the Hitler era, Alfred Krupp was convicted of War Crimes at Nuremberg, adding, "That is a function of the federal government."
In those days, in our time; through words and deeds: Thyssen and Krupp-- enablers of tyranny -- from Hitler to Ahmadinejad.
On the eve of the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, Siemens AG, the German engineering giant, which used slave labor during WWII in Auschwitz, announced on Tuesday at its annual stockholder meeting that it is severing its business ties with Iran. In the audience was Michael Spaney from STOP THE BOMB who led the campaign to force this key German firm to pull the plug on Iran.