Wall Street Journal Europe – REVIEW & OUTLOOK: In the wake of the International Atomic Energy Agency's recent report indicating that Iran may have enough nuclear material to build one atomic bomb, German entrepreneurs met yesterday to discuss how to expand business with the Islamic Republic.
Berlin ♥ Iran III
The Wall Street Journal Europe
Good relations between these two countries is a matter of tradition.
REVIEW & OUTLOOK
In the wake of the International Atomic Energy Agency's recent report indicating that Iran may have enough nuclear material to build one atomic bomb, German entrepreneurs met yesterday to discuss how to expand business with the Islamic Republic.
Dealing with the United Nations trade restrictions was the topic of a seminar in Hamburg organized by the German-Iranian Chamber of Commerce. The session was titled "Iran Sanctions — Practical Consequences for German Companies." It was aimed at helping firms in "these difficult times" — a reference to the sanctions, not the global economic crisis.
Among the scheduled speakers was Sabine Hummerich from Bank Melli, Iran's largest bank. In June, the European Union froze Bank Melli's assets because of its connections to Tehran's nuclear program and barred dealings with the bank. This didn't stop the organizers from inviting Ms. Hummerich to lecture about the "Financial Transaction of Iranian Business Deals."
As Europe's largest exporter to the Iran, Germany has unique leverage over the regime. But Berlin refuses to use it, unwilling to go beyond the relatively soft U.N. trade restrictions. German exports to Iran are rising, up 14.1% in the first seven months of this year, according to Germany's Federal Statistical Office.
Firms that missed yesterday's event need not worry. The Islamic Republic is so much in vogue in Germany these days that the conference organizer Management Circle is planning a two-day crash course next month in Frankfurt. The program lists seven reasons for doing business with Iran, including "traditional good economic and political relations with Germany."
Unlike Britain and France, which advocate tougher sanctions, Germany remains held back by "tradition" from putting real pressure on Iran.