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Issue Number 49, dated 8/3/98

Exclusive: Iran Brief exposes European missile assistance (Serial4906)


While much is known about Russian and Chinese assistance to theShahab-3 program, The Iran Brief has long tracked sales by Europeancompanies that have helped Iran with its missile developmentprograms.

Among the most prominent:

• Mercedes Benz, which established a joint venture in 1992with Iran Kaveh to build heavy duty trucks and diesel engines inIran. The 19 to 26-ton trucks are ideally suited for use asTractor-Erector-Launcher vehicles; some have reportedly already beenadapted to launch Iran's shorter-range Oghab and Nazeat-10rockets;

• DA Dampf. This private German firm purchased largequantities of ammonium perchlorate, a solid-fuel ingredient, throughGirundus, an intermediary based in Switzerland and major U.S.producers, for transshipment to Iran in the late 1980s.

• Air Liquide. This French firm has built several airseparation plants at major petrochemicals complexes (Arak,Mobarakeh), to produce oxygen and nitrogen. While this is a standardprocedure at such plants, Iran will need a large indigenous supply ofnitrogen as fuel for its various liquid-fuel missile projects..

• Société Nationale des Poudres et Explosifs(SNPE). This French state-owned firm supplied process technology andproduction equipment for a solid- propellant fuel plant in themid-1980s in Parchin. It also shipped hundreds of tons of HMX andplastic explosives for use in naval mines;

• Degussa. The Swiss subsidiary of the German chemicals giantcontracted with a Spanish firm, Senner, to build a carbon black plantin Saveh in the late 1980s. Carbon black has many civilian uses, butis also needed to make missile nozzles and other components subjectedto intense heat.

• Wild Heerbrugg. This Swiss military optics specialist wascaught in 1987 shipping GPS units to Iran's Revolutionary Guards.U.S. intelligence sources expect Iran to incorporate GPS receivers inthe Shahab missiles.

• Ashtech Inc. This American company was indicted in 1995 forhaving shipped 8 GPS units to Iran through the UAE.