Dr. Jorg Streitferdt, in-house counsel for Degussa, AG, based in Frankfurt, Germany, which owned Leybold at the time, said the companies did sell some equipment that ended up in Iraq's nuclear program, and were later subjected to a series of investigations, including a criminal inquiry by Germany.
He noted that Degussa was exonerated on the charges of selling vacuum furnaces to Iraq, largely because West Germany did not require export licenses at that time for such sales. Though Degussa executives suspected that Iraq might use the equipment for military purposes given the ongoing Iran-Iraq war, he added, they did not know that Iraq wanted it for a nuclear program.
"DeGussa and Leybold did not know what the equipment was for," Streitferdt said. "The whole world did not know what Iraq was about to do. We have learned our lesson and now have very tough internal controls on our exports."