Stiffer sanctions on Iran could cost Germany dear

November 25, 2007 - 0:0

BERLIN -- (Monsters and The German government’s increasingly firm line on Iran's uranium enrichment program could cost the state coffers millions of euros if stiffer sanctions are introduced, Der Spiegel news magazine reported Saturday.

Germany, which has joined the five permanent members of the UN Security Council in talks with Iran over its nuclear program, is Iran's main trading partner in the European Union.
Der Spiegel reported that if an embargo was placed on Iran's Bank Melli, which services most of the trade, German state coffers could lose more than 2 billion euros (3 billion dollars) over the short term.
German banks have severely cut back on dealings with Iran under pressure from the United States, and Chancellor Angela Merkel said this week she expected business dealings with Iran to be further wound down.
Speaking on Monday, Merkel said her aim was to ensure trade with Iran did not continue via third parties. “This process has not been completed as yet,” she said.
Referring to a “moment of truth” in Germany’s dealings with Iran, Merkel restated longstanding government policy that ensuring Israel’s security was a key aspect of German foreign policy.
German exports to Iran totaled 4.12 billion euros in 2006, much of it in high-tech machinery. Imports were a much smaller 417 million euros.
The trade is regularly conducted under the Hermes scheme of German government guarantees.
A boycott of Bank Melli would block payments, and German exporters would claim their payments under the Hermes export guarantee scheme.
According to Der Spiegel, Finance Ministry statisticians have calculated a possible loss to state coffers of between 700 and 800 million euros next year alone.
German exports to Iran have fallen by close to a fifth so far this year, and are set to fall faster in the future, as Merkel has made clear.