BONN — Nearly 60 West German firms are being investigated for illegal weapons exports to Iraq, the government said Thursday, urging industry to police itself to purge the embarrassing trade.
Economics Minister Helmut Haussmann said about 25 firms are under suspicion for earlier criminal violations that have grabbed headlines now because of the Persian Gulf crisis.
Thirty-four more firms face possible fines for smaller offenses involving illegal weapons or technology exports to Iraq, the economics ministry said.
West Germany arrested seven people last Friday on suspicion of supplying Iraq with equipment to make poison gas.
Haussmann said in a statement that export-control laws are being sharply tightened, and he urged West German industry and business "to be especially careful in its dealings with the export control law."