Yediot: Despite Berlusconi’s promises, Italy remains “an enthusiastic supporter of the Iranian economy”
Menahem Ganz, Yediot, September 14 2010 [page 19, Hebrew original here and at bottom of post]
Rome — Half a year after returning from a visit to Israel, in the course of which Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi promised to act to reduce the volume of trade between Italy and Iran, it has now become evident that Rome has remained an enthusiastic supporter of the Iranian economy this year too.
While Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi and Foreign Minister Franco Frattini have both declared in the past that they understood the need to undermine Tehran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons, which threaten the State of Israel’s security and very existence, in practice the policies that have been pursued by their government have promoted trade with Tehran, which has helped the regime in Tehran to maintain its stability.
An examination by Yedioth Ahronoth found that according to data released by the Italian Central Bureau of Statistics, the scope of Iranian imports to Italy in the first half of 2010 was more than double [the previous period] and came to €2 billion. The Iranian imports to Italy in the equivalent period of 2009 were €847 million.
Italian exports to Iran also rose significantly, from €892 million in the first half of 2009 to more than a billion euros. While specific data have not yet been published, it is clear that the surge in trade does not stem from the trade in basic foods. Central Bureau of Statistics data clearly show that industry-related goods, infrastructure work, energy, communication satellites and technological products were typical of the trade between the two countries this year.
As previously noted by journalistic reports, Italian companies have also provided support to the Iranian army. Early this year the CEO of the Italian energy company ENI was called to the US State Department to explain the enormous volume of trade between the two countries. This is the fourth consecutive year in which the volume of trade between Italy and Iran has risen, despite the sanctions that were imposed by the UN on Iran and despite all the promises that the Italians gave to the US administration and the warm embraces that were given by Berlusconi during his visit to Israel.
The Italian Foreign Ministry in Rome yesterday confirmed the data and explained: “The sharp rise in imports from Iran stems from changes in the value of the currency between the euro and the dollar and the price of oil. There has been no departure from the sanctions that were imposed on Iran by the UN in exports to Iran. Large companies in Italy froze deals, and there is no dual civilian-military use of their activities. Alternately, the owners of medium and small-sized businesses who feel the acceleration of the Italian economy trade with Iran while taking a risk, in the absence of government insurance for their activities.”
The Italian Prime Minister’s Office said in response that they were still studying the data.