Germany and Iran — the relationship gets cozier still

Germany’s ambassador to Iran, Herbert Honsowitz, has told the Iranian government not to worry about Berlin’s announcement that it will reduce trade with Iran. Honsowitz noted that German companies have utilized the United Arab Emirates as a middleman for more than $4 billion in trade. He added: “At present time the Economic Affairs Section of the German Embassy is working on taking the necessary measures to preserve and improve economic relations between the private sector in Germany and Iran.”

Last month, Honsowitz was summoned to Berlin to explain why the German military attache attended Iran’s annual military parade. At that parade, as would be expected, President Ahmadinejad promised to “break the hands” of invaders, amid banners that read “Israel should be eradicated from the universe” and shouts of “Down with Israel” and “We will crush America under our feet.” The Wall Street Journal dryly observed that it had been a while since German military officers attended rallies that feature threats to Jews.

To make matters worse, the man who summoned Honsowitz to Berlin, German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, supported an anti-Israel conference in Germany not long ago. During that conference, Iran’s former deputy minister of foreign Affairs stated that “the Zionist project” should be “cancelled” because it “has failed miserably and has only caused terrible damage to the region.” Steinmeier had already been criticized by supporters of Israel for being too sympathetic to Iran. Thus, while German officials may miss future Iranian military parades, Honsowitz’s assurances to Iran, coming not long after his confab with Steinmeier in Berlin, are strong evidence that Germany has no intention of taking serious measures to deter Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

As Michael Rubin argues, Germany’s posture is “a shining example of why multilateralism does not work and why diplomacy will not be enough to stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions.” It’s an example George Bush should ponder in the last months of his presidency, but one that I doubt he will.

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