German intelligence: Iran is seeking weapons of mass destruction

Intelligence report says Tehran wants to source materials from Europe

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Iran is looking to develop weapons of mass destruction and source materials from Europe, a German intelligence report said.

Tehran denies it wants a nuclear weapon and is attending talks in Vienna aimed at restoring the limits on its nuclear activity that it agreed to in 2015.

But the report by Bavaria’s Office for the Protection of the Constitution names Iran as one of several countries, along with North Korea and Syria, seeking to develop a stock of destructive weapons.

They are “endeavouring to expand their conventional weapons arsenals through the production, or constant modernisation, of weapons of mass destruction,” the report said.

“In order to obtain the necessary know-how and materials, these states are trying to forge contacts with businesses in high-tech countries such as Germany.”

The report said the states tried to evade German export controls by setting up fake companies, sending goods via third countries or duping German firms to conceal their activities.

The 380-page document also said that Iran’s intelligence services remained active in Germany even after they were implicated in a bomb plot in Europe foiled by German authorities.

The Ministry of Intelligence of the Islamic Republic of Iran (MOIS), the Revolutionary Guard Corps Intelligence Organisation and the Guards’ elite Quds Force were named on a list of foreign spies active in Germany.

An MOIS operative was identified as the plotter behind a thwarted bomb attack on an Iranian opposition rally in Paris in 2018.

Guests at the event included former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani and several British MPs.

The plotter, Assadollah Assadi, was arrested in Germany and transferred to Belgium, where police found explosives in a car.

Belgian security officials later identified him as an Iranian intelligence official who operated undercover at Tehran's embassy in Austria. He was believed to work for the ministry's so-called Department 312, a directorate for internal security, which is on an EU terrorism list.

The investigation found that Assadi had carried explosives to Austria on a commercial flight from Iran and later handed them over to other plotters during a meeting at a Pizza Hut restaurant in Luxembourg.

Germany and Iran walk diplomatic tightrope in nuclear talks

The report said Iran’s reconnaissance work in Germany was aimed especially at Jewish and Israeli groups and their supporters.

“Germany remains a focus of the intelligence services’ reconnaissance work,” it said.

Germany is one of the signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and Iran, which diplomats are trying to revive in Vienna.

Under the deal, sanctions were lifted on Iran in exchange for limits on Tehran’s nuclear activity, which were designed to prevent it from developing an atomic bomb.

But sanctions returned after former US president Donald Trump pulled the US out of the deal in 2018 and Iran subsequently started breaching the limits under the pact.

Iran this month began enriching uranium to 60 per cent, well above its 3.67 per cent limit.

A purity of around 90 per cent would be needed for a nuclear bomb, although Iran insists it is not seeking one.

Joe Biden’s administration wants to restore Iran’s compliance with the pact, while Iran demands that all sanctions must be lifted first.

Talks between Iran and the remaining parties to the deal – Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China – began in Vienna this month.

They resumed on Tuesday with European diplomats once again poised to shuttle between the Iranians and a US delegation based at a separate hotel.