Last week, the news broke that German police had found evidence of the Islamic Republic’s efforts to buy nuclear and missile technology forbidden by the 2015 agreement. Charges were filed against three German citizens for violating export laws by selling 51 special valves, meant to be used in a nuclear reactor, to an Iranian company. Nonetheless, Berlin, a party to the nuclear deal, will not take any action against Tehran, for reasons Michael Rubin explains:
[W]henever reports of cheating threaten to derail non-proliferation agreements, governments invested in those agreements are willing to bury the evidence to make a quick buck. Often, the [U.S.] State Department is [also] willing to look the other way in order to keep the process alive. That was the case with Iraq in the 1980s, North Korea in the 1990s, and Iran in the first half of the last decade. . . .
German diplomats have [in the past] not only been willing to excuse Iranian terrorism, but also nuclear cheating. [In] 2003, . . . despite finding that Iran had been developing a uranium centrifuge-enrichment program for eighteen years, and a laser-enrichment program for twelve years, the German foreign minister Joschka Fischer corralled European Union authorities into giving the Islamic Republic another chance.
German leaders might preach human rights and the virtues of multilateralism, but when it comes to the Islamic Republic, the German government’s desire to promote business always trumps holding Iran to account. Yes, Iran likely seeks to renew and advance its nuclear-weapons program. Iranian leaders correctly calculate that even if they paraded a nuclear missile through the streets of Tehran or tested a warhead in their southeastern desert, German authorities would embrace any excuse, however implausible, to look the other way, deny reality, and run interference—all in order to keep trade channels open.