Germany & Iraq
To the Editor:
As an avid COMMENTARY reader for many years, I feel compelled to respond to the article by Michael Ledeen [“Iraq's German Connection,” April], which alleges that the government of the Federal Republic of Germany played a substantial and deliberate part in helping Iraq build up its potential of weapons of mass destruction and conventional arms; charges the German Foreign Minister, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, with hypocrisy in connection with this matter; and concludes with a suggestion of “moral corruption” on the German side.
First, let me clarify a few things so that readers of COMMENTARY may draw their own conclusions:
* It was no later than 1961 that the German government stopped authorizing weapons exports to Iraq. Similarly, the government imposed tighter requirements on the authorization of other merchandise exports to Iraq. Even before the UN embargo went into effect, deliveries of armaments and so-called “dual-use” goods to military users in Iraq had been suspended.
* The Federal Republic of Germany is, as I understand it, thus far the only country in the world to have renounced—in a form binding under international law—the production of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. Germany is not engaged in the production or export of nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons, nor does the German government possess any such weapons.
* Germany’s export-control regulations are among the most rigid in the world. As early as 1984, Germany was the first country in the world to require government authorization for the export of any equipment that might be used in the production of chemical and biological weapons. In order to tighten these rules further, the government—in another unprecedented move—enacted legislation penalizing any involvement by German citizens at home or abroad in the production of weapons of mass destruction.
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