Monday, June 16, 2008

CIA in Dutch Espionage Gaffe

Dutch newspaper "De Telegraaf" reported last week that the CIA has carried out covert operations in the country, resulting in a diplomatic tiff in which the CIA station chief has been sent packing. The conflict was kept carefully under-wraps. "Well informed sources" in The Hague say the discredited CIA station chief left the Netherlands in 2005.

Central to the covert operations was an investigation into the proliferation of nuclear technology to Pakistan. According to sources this led to a bizarre situation during a secret operation at the house of a businessman. At some point Dutch intelligence agents became aware of CIA spooks also entering the premises, and caught them on tape.

Since the departure of the CIA officer relations have markedly improved. The new American station chief is said to be more diplomatically correct than his predecessor.

- Caption: Hat Tip "The Atlantic" -

Underlying this innocent sounding anecdote is a much more sinister espionage story, which might have wider ramifications in the future.

In August 2005 former Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers confirmed that the Government at the time knew Pakistini nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan was stealing secret nuclear technology from the Physical Dynamics Research Laboratory (FDO) in Amsterdam where Khan worked from 1972 to 1976.

FDO was a URENCO subcontractor, the uranium enrichment facility which had been established by the U.K., West Germany and the Netherlands to produce enriched uranium for European reactors.

Lubbers went on record, affirming - upon the CIA's wishes, in order to monitor Khan's movements - to have let Khan proceed with his clandestine activities on at least two separate occasions.

In January 2004 Khan confessed to having been involved in a clandestine international mail order network of nuclear weapons technology from Pakistan to Libya, Iran and North Korea.

Khan, being somewhat of a national hero, was pardoned by President Musharraf after having served a period under house-arrest. The Pakistan President later confirmed Khan had supplied uranium hexafluoride, gas centrifuges and parts to North Korea.

Evidently this lethal spat hasn't got the tendency of becoming very fast a blast from the past.


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