From 1987 through 1990, West German companies, in some cases with the knowledge of the German government, sold Iraq critical equipment for making centrifuges that produce weapons-grade uranium. German engineers were hired to install and run these machines. Germans also helped Iraq build major military facilities, including the Saad 16 military research and development complex in the mountains near Mosul. They were also the chief supplier to at least six Iraqi plants that produce deadly nerve agents and mustard gas. Hussein's bunker, built to withstand a nuclear blast, was built by Germans.
The German government has been deeply embarrassed by the role that German firms played in helping Hussein build his chemical weapons arsenal. The subject is especially sensitive because of the Holocaust and the reparations the Germans have paid to Israel for gassing millions of Jews. German authorities have since cracked down on chemical companies that do business in Iraq.