Should Germany’s M.B.B. Be Permitted To Reap What It ‘Sowed’ In The Gulf?

Among the numerous companies currently competing for a large contract to be awarded momentarily by the government of Kuwait is a Florida-based concern by the name of Conventional Munitions Systems (CMS). Nominally, CMS is an U.S. company — and therefore appears to be benefiting from the preferred consideration the Kuwaitis pledged to give U.S. enterprises in reconstructing their ravaged country.

In fact, CMS is completely owned and controlled through a holding company (MBB of America, Inc.) by a huge German conglomerate, Messerschmitt Boelkow Blohm (MBB) of Munich. (Only a score or so of the CMS’s employees appear to be based in the United States; the remaining 471 evidently reside elsewhere.) MBB, of course, is a company which — like a number of other German enterprises — gained considerable notoriety for their sales to Saddam Hussein of various lethal weapon systems and dangerous dual-use technologies. The Center for Security Policy is alarmed at the prospect that a company which profited at the expense of Western security might now be allowed to cash in on the consequences that have arisen, at least in part, from its past misdeeds.

The contract expected to be awarded shortly by the Kuwaiti Ministry of Defense is estimated to be worth several hundred million dollars. It would pay for locating, disarming and removing mines and other unexploded ordnance in the U.S. sector of Kuwait. It is not clear whether any of such dangerous material was provided to Iraq by MBB. What is known, however, thanks to a January 1991 U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Report entitled Weapon Sales to Iraq, is that MBB significantly contributed to Saddam Hussein’s military by:

  • helping to manufacture Iraqi anti-tank and anti-aircraft systems that were used against allied forces in the war with Iraq;
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  • providing fuel-air explosive technology;
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  • acting as an important subcontractor on the SAAD-16 chemical weapons plant;
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  • shipping civilian helicopters from Germany to Spain and Austria, where they were converted to military use and sent to Iraq; and
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  • giving key assistance to Iraq’s development of the Condor 2 long-range missile.

 

The clean-up of the 1,200 square mile sector involved in the Kuwaiti government contract will be one of the biggest projects of its kind ever mounted. It is expected to take 24 months to complete. The winning company will inevitably obtain an invaluable head start up the "learning curve" over any competitors for future undertakings of this kind.

The Center for Security Policy feels it is inconceivable that a contract of such size, significance and importance to the rebuilding of Kuwait might go to a firm which is, for all intents and purposes, more German than American — to say nothing of one whose parent company actually played a role building some of the Iraqi military capabilities that helped destroy Kuwait in the first place.

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