There is speculation that the Mossad was involved in the 1980s bombings and threats against German and Swiss firms that were actively working to assist the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in developing its nuclear weapons program.
NZZ, a well-known Swiss newspaper, first revealed the findings on Saturday.
The paper said, “The suspicion that the Mossad might be behind the attacks and threats soon arose. For Israel, the prospect that Pakistan, for the first time, could become an Islamic state with an atomic bomb posed an existential threat.”
According to the article, Pakistan and Iran collaborated closely on nuclear weapons development in the 1980s.
“Relatively well researched” is how the NZZ describes the extensive work of German and Swiss corporations in supporting Iran’s nuclear development.
However, “New, previously unknown documents from archives in Bern and Washington sharpen this picture.”
The Swiss historian Adrian Hänni was mentioned in the article as saying that the Mossad was certainly engaged in the bombings of Swiss and German firms, but that there was no “smoking gun” to establish the Mossad was behind the attacks.
The bombings in Switzerland and Germany were linked to the Organization for the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in South Asia, a hitherto unknown group.
The late Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, known as the “Father of Pakistan’s Atomic Weapons Program,” crisscrossed Europe in the 1980s, obtaining technology and designs for a nuclear weapons device from Western institutions and firms, according to the NZZ.
According to the newspaper, Khan visited a delegation from Iran’s Organization for Atomic Energy in a Zurich hotel in 1987. Masud Naraghi, the head of Iran’s nuclear energy commission, was in charge of the Iranian delegation.
In addition to Naraghi, who got his PhD in the United States, two other German engineers, Gotthard Lerch and Heinz Mebus, met with Khan’s team in Switzerland. In Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, there were further meetings.
With Pakistan’s rapid efforts to restart its nuclear weapons program, the US government attempted, but failed, to persuade the German and Swiss governments to take action against corporations in their countries that were assisting Pakistan. Suspected Mossad operatives secretly took action against firms and scientists involved in helping Pakistan in Switzerland and Germany.
According to the media, “A few months after the unsuccessful intervention of the American state department in Bonn [then-capital of West Germany] and Bern, unknown perpetrators carried out explosive attacks on three of these companies: on February 20, 1981, on the house of a leading employee of Cora Engineering Chur; on May 18, 1981, on the factory building of the Wälischmiller company in Markdorf; and finally, on November 6th, 1981, on the engineering office of Heinz Mebus in Erlangen. All three attacks resulted in only property damage, only Mebus’s dog was killed.”
The paper further added that “The explosives attacks were accompanied by several phone calls in which strangers threatened other delivery companies in English or broken German. Sometimes the caller would order the threats to be taped. ‘The attack that we carried out against the Wälischmiller company could happen to you too’ – this is how the Leybold-Heraeus administration office was intimidated. Siegfried Schertler, the owner of VAT at the time, and his head salesman Tinner were called several times on their private lines. Schertler also reported to the Swiss Federal Police that the Israeli secret service had contacted him. This emerges from the investigation files, which the NZZ was able to see for the first time.”
Schertler said an Israeli diplomat in Germany, identified as David, contacted the VAT administrator.
David pushed the companies to abandon “these businesses” in nuclear weapons and focus on the textile industry, according to the head of the company.
Companies in Switzerland and Germany made a lot of money dealing with Khan’s nuclear weapons network.
The NZZ reported “Many of these suppliers, mainly from Germany and Switzerland, soon entered into business worth millions with Pakistan: Leybold-Heraeus, Wälischmiller, Cora Engineering Chur, Vakuum-Apparate-Technik (VAT, with the chief buyer Friedrich Tinner) or the Buchs metal works, to name but a few to name a few. They benefited from an important circumstance: the German and Swiss authorities interpreted their dual-use provisions very generously: Most of the components that are required for uranium enrichment, for example, high-precision vacuum valves, are primarily used for civil purposes.”
According to the NZZ, the National Security Archive in Washington recently revealed diplomatic correspondence from the US State Department between Bonn and Bern in 1980.
“This shows how the US resented the two countries’ casual handling of the delicate deliveries to Pakistan. In a note from an employee, Bern’s behavior was described as a ‘hands-off approach’ – the local authorities were accordingly accused of turning a blind eye. In the now released dispatches, which were previously classified as secret, those companies are listed for the first time that the US has accused of supporting the Pakistani nuclear weapons program with their deliveries. The list included around half a dozen companies each from Germany and Switzerland.”
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