LAHR, West Germany (AP) _ West German financial examiners found no proof to support U.S. allegations that a West German firm helped build a plant in Libya designed to produce chemical weapons, officials said today.
The announcement ended a probe of the Imhausen-Chemie company in southwest Baden-Wuerttemberg state. The federal Finance Ministry ordered the company’s records examined in response to the U.S. claims.
″There is no evidence of illegal exports,″ Freiburg district director Willi Voegele told reporters after delivering results of the inquiry to the company offices in Lahr, 130 miles south of Frankfurt.
Voegele said the inquiry had not found any evidence to show that ″the company or its branches sold pieces of chemical (plant) equipment to Libya from 1984 until today.″
″They also have not helped with plans or with specialized knowledge,″ he said.
Juergen Hippenstiel-Imhausen, managing director of the company, repeated his denials of the U.S. allegations, saying the firm had ″nothing - absolutely nothing - to do with this ’Libyan tale.‴
Also today, the West German government said that five other West German companies ″in all probability″ provided Iraq with materials that can be used to make chemical weapons.
No charges have been filed in that case, which came to official attention before the allegations against Imhausen-Chemie surfaced.
The government said the companies under investigation are Walter Engineer Trading of Hamburg, the Karl Kolb company of Dreieich, Pilot Plant of Dreieich, Preussag of Hanover and Heberberger Bau of Schifferstadt.
The British government, meanwhile, joined the United States in claiming to have proof that the Libyan plant was designed to produce chemical weapons.
The statement Wednesday night from the Foreign Office was the first comment by British officials on U.S. allegations and other reports that Libya built the plant to make chemical weapons, including poison gas.
″This information shows that the plant is very large and that there is no doubt it is intended for chemical warfare production,″ a Foreign Office spokesman said.
So far, companies from West Germany, East Germany, Japan, Italy, South Korea, Austria and Switzerland have been named in news reports as being involved with the plant.
Today’s Financial Times said Washington’s concerns about the plant ″center on the involvement by at least a dozen western European and Japanese companies.″
The British newspaper also quoted unidentified U.S. officials as saying the plant is surrounded by Soviet-made SA-6 anti-aircraft missiles.
″It is not customary to defend a pharmaceutical plant with surface-to-air missiles,″ the Financial Times quoted one U.S. official as saying.