Pakistan involved in efforts to illegally acquire nuclear tech from Germany: Official report

Pakistan and North Korea continue to be involved in attempts to illegally obtain nuclear products and know-how from German hi-tech companies as part of efforts to develop their atomic weapons programmes, a new report by German authorities has said.

The annual report from the Office for the Protection of the Constitution in Baden-Württemberg, a state in southwest Germany, said the country is an “important area of operation” for clandestine efforts by Pakistan, North Korea, Iran and Syria to obtain nuclear technology as it is a leading industrial nation and home to numerous hi-tech firms.

The report for the year 2019 was made public by authorities in Baden-Württemberg on June 16. This is the second time in less than six months that German authorities have expressed concern about Pakistan’s efforts to illegally procure technology used in atomic weapons.

The report, which is in German, said: “Iran, Pakistan, North Korea and Syria are still pursuing such efforts. They aim to complete existing arsenals, perfect the range, deployability and effectiveness of their weapons, and develop new weapons systems. They are trying to obtain the necessary products and relevant know-how…through illegal procurement efforts in Germany.”

Such countries also “constantly develop and optimise their procurement methods” to circumvent existing export restrictions and embargoes, the report said.

“To conceal the actual end user, they can procure goods in Germany and Europe with the help of specially established cover companies and, in particular, transport dual-use goods to risk states. Typical bypass countries include the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and China,” the report added.

Potential sources of nuclear know-how are universities, non-university research institutions and research and training departments of companies, the report said.

“In order to minimise risks, the State Office for the Protection of the Constitution sensitises those responsible to make them aware of the danger and possible consequences of illegal knowledge transfer,” it added.

In a specific section on Pakistan, the report said the country has operated an extensive programme for nuclear weapons and delivery systems for many years. “This is primarily directed against the ‘arch enemy’ India, which also possesses nuclear weapons. For maintenance and further development, Pakistan is dependent, among other things, on the acquisition of Western technology and procedures,” the report said.

“In addition to the acquisition of products (dual-use goods), the secondment of scientists to universities, institutes or research establishments is also important. This also applies to institutions in Baden-Württemberg.”

In November last year, the German government had responded to a question from several lawmakers of die Linke (Left Party) by saying it believed there has been a “sharp increase” in Pakistan’s activities in recent years to illegally procure technology used in nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) weapons.

The government’s reply dovetailed with concerns expressed by Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV), the domestic intelligence service, which had said in a 2018 report on proliferation-related matters that there has been a “massive increase” in Pakistan’s attempts to clandestinely procure nuclear goods in Germany and other Western countries.

Source : Hindustan Times


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