Italian-Iranian trade thrives, supports Tehran's nuclear program
debkafile Exclusive Report
" Israel has no bigger friend," said prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu of Silvio Berlusconi, who begins an official visit to Israel with half a dozen ministers Monday, Feb. 1. According to the fat trade contracts current with Tehran, Italy would be more accurately described as "Iran's biggest friend" – at least, in Europe, where the Berlusconi government is also fighting to spare the Islamic Republic further sanctions.
The Israeli prime minister by shrugging off the dark side of Berlusconi's foreign relations does no favors to his and Israel's credibility at home or abroad. The Iranian menace, which Netanyahu harps on in every speech, is greatly enlarged, as he knows very well, by the support Tehran enjoys from its big trading partners like Italy. debkafile's sources list seven glaring examples of the thriving relations between Italy and Iran:
1. Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini recently warned the European Union, on direct orders from Berlusconi, to refrain from expanding sanctions against Iran for its nuclear violations: "We must not burn every bridge," he said, "because Iran is a key figure and we must avoid those [sanctions] that are connected with Iranian national pride."
2. Encouraged by the Rome government, more than 1,000 Italian firms operate inside Iran, including the energy giant Eni, Fiat Ansaldo, Danieli-Duferco and Maire Technimont.
3. Only this month, Maire Tecnimont signed a contract for the purchase of 220 million euros-worth of Iranian gas to Italy. This company also furnishes the Iranian army, as well as its space and nuclear programs, with equipment.
4. Carlo Gavazzi Space is helping Iran construct its Mesbah communications satellite, even though this program is the front for the manufacture of surveillance satellites for spying on Israel.
5. The Iveco, a subsidiary of Fiat, supplies the Iranian army and Revolutionary Guards with their fleets of heavy trucks. They are seen at every military parade in Tehran, trundling past carrying Iranian ballistic missiles.
6. Levrievo speed boats, made by the Italian FB Design, are the model for the swift craft used as seaborne bombs by the Revolutionary Guards marine units and the Hizballah commando squads, which are currently training in Iran for in-depth terrorist raids in Israel.
7. The large Italian construction firm Seli is the source of Iran's heavy earthmoving equipment for digging tunnels. Its personnel work closely with the Iranian Ghaem company, which US intelligence has discovered to be an arm of the Revolutionary Guards. Italian heavy equipment therefore helps burrow the secret fortified bunkers where Iran conceals banned projects of its nuclear program and a top priority as US or Israeli targets of attack.
The Italians claim all these transactions as civilian in nature and they have no idea what eventual use Iran may make its purchases.