Germany Also Helped Build
Iraq's CAB Weapons
By Roger Boyes in Bonn
The London Times
GERMAN businessmen, their margins squeezed by a faltering economy, have been boosting their profits by selling President Saddam Hussein the know-how and materials needed for his nuclear, biological and chemical warfare programmes.
Although many European countries - including Britain - have been trading with Saddam, German know-how in biochemical weaponry has given it an edge. Diplomats speak of "droves" of German scientists and businessmen travelling to and from Baghdad over the past few years. "The flight from Zurich was always chock-a-block," said one diplomat monitoring German contacts with Iraq.
Much of the evidence - which has come to light in recent trials - is related to the period before the Gulf War or to the early 1990s, but it is clear that some projects, set up with German help, are being continued. Eleven German companies have been investigated for their role in building nuclear plants.
Managers from one company, Havert, have just been jailed for two to three-year terms. Anton Eyerte, the owner of Rhein-Bayern-Fahrzügbau, was jailed for 5 1/2 years for participating in Iraqi missile development. But the engineer described as the key figure in Iraq's missile programme, Karl-Heinz Schaab, has fled to Brazil.
It was, however, the switch of emphasis from nuclear missiles - easily targeted by a Western force - to biological weapons that has drawn most heavily on German skills. Executives of the Hamburg-based Water Engineering Trading Company were arrested for supplying technology to Iraq designed to produce poison gas. The company claimed it was a plant for processing pesticide. Swiss experts backed the prosecution's claim that the factory was suitable for making poison gas. But defence witnesses, such as Professor Wolfgang Mozduk, argued that "even a kitchen sink can be suitable for producing poison gas".
This highlighted the problem of nailing culprits in the biochemical weapons trade. Of 56 inquiries into German firms, only six have ended with jail terms. At least 15 have had to be dropped because of the difficulty of proving that Saddam was using the plant for war purposes rather than for pesticides. "All I can say is, judging by the flow of German exports, Saddam must have a huge insect problem," the diplomat monitoring trade with Iraq said.
The biological and chemical arsenal of Saddam's is made up of substances that have been traditional specialities of German scientists. Sarin nerve gas was developed by German (and Japanese) scientists in the 1930s and 1940s; anthrax - perhaps the most feared biological weapon - was developed in several European centres, but it was the Germans who conducted the most thorough research. German expertise in biochemical weapons was, however, not much in demand until the Iran-Iraq War. For the Germans, it was the money that made it worth their while to continue their involvement. From his hiding place Dr Schaab spoke frankly to Der Spiegel: "I began because in difficult times my company needed a strong, rich customer."
If the worst comes to the worst, Saddam can still take cover in his 19,260 sq ft bomb-proof underground bunker. Designed by a Düsseldorf company and furnished by a Munich firm, it has special air filters in case the war overground becomes too hot.

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