The Guardian: The determination of countries across the Middle East and Asia to develop nuclear arsenals and other weapons of mass destruction is laid bare by a secret British intelligence document which has been seen by the Guardian. The Guardian
Document names 300 organisations seeking nuclear and WMD technology
Ian Cobain and Ewen MacAskill
The determination of countries across the Middle East and Asia to develop nuclear arsenals and other weapons of mass destruction is laid bare by a secret British intelligence document which has been seen by the Guardian.
More than 360 private companies, university departments and government organisations in eight countries, including the Pakistan high commission in London, are identified as having procured goods or technology for use in weapons programmes.
The length of the list, compiled by MI5, suggests that the arms trade supermarket is bigger than has so far been publicly realised. MI5 warns against exports to organisations in Iran, Pakistan, India, Israel, Syria and Egypt and to beware of front companies in the United Arab Emirates, which appears to be a hub for the trade.
The disclosure of the list comes as the Nobel peace prize was yesterday awarded to Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the UN watchdog responsible for combating proliferation. The Nobel committee said they had made the award because of the apparent deadlock in disarmament and the danger that nuclear weapons could spread “both to states and to terrorist groups”.
The MI5 document, entitled Companies and Organisations of Proliferation Concern, has been compiled in an attempt to prevent British companies inadvertently exporting sensitive goods or expertise to organisations covertly involved in WMD programmes. Despite the large number of bodies identified, the document says the list is not exhaustive.
It states: “It is not suggested that the companies and organisations on the list have committed an offence under UK legislation. However, in addition to conducting non-proliferation related business, they have procured goods and/or technology for weapons of mass destruction programmes.”
The 17-page document identifies 95 Pakistani organisations and government bodies, including the Pakistan high commission in London, as having assisted in the country’s nuclear programme. The list was compiled two years ago, shortly after the security service mounted a surveillance operation at the high commission which is the only diplomatic institution on the list. Abdul Basit, the deputy high commissioner, said: “It is absolute rubbish for Pakistan to be included. We take exception to these links.”
Some 114 Iranian organisations, including chemical and pharmaceutical companies and university medical schools, are identified as having acquired nuclear, chemical, biological or missile technology. The document also attempts to shed some light on the nuclear ambitions of Egypt and Syria: a private chemical company in Egypt is identified as having procured technology for use in a nuclear weapons programme, while the Syrian atomic energy commission faces a similar charge. Eleven Israeli organisations appear on the list, along with 73 Indian bodies, which are said to have been involved in WMD programmes.
The document also highlights concerns that companies in Malta and Cyprus could have been used as fronts for WMD programmes. The United Arab Emirates is named as “the most important” of the countries where front companies may have been used, and 24 private firms there are identified as having acquired WMD technology for Iran, Pakistan and India.
A spokesman for the UAE government said it had always worked “very closely” with the British authorities to counter the proliferation of WMD.