Report: Dutch technology may have helped advance Iran's weapons program

Intelligence services from the Netherlands are raising a red flag over Iran's use of Dutch technology to accelerate its lethal weapons program.

Missiles and a portrait of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Baharestan Square in Tehran, Iran (photo credit: NAZANIN TABATABAEE YAZDI/ TIMA VIA REUTERS)
Missiles and a portrait of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Baharestan Square in Tehran, Iran
Iran, along with Syria and Pakistan, may have obtained technology that can be applied to military programs that can cause widespread destruction, intelligence services in the Netherlands said late last month.
“Dutch technology was used in programs of weapons of mass destruction and means of delivery in Iran, Pakistan or Syria,” wrote the Dutch ministers of defense, foreign affairs and foreign trade in a letter sent to the lower house of parliament in the last week of October.
The ministers said Dutch intelligence services are aware of “indications in a number of cases” where technology from the Netherlands played a role in weapons of mass destruction programs, reported ANP, the country’s largest news agency.
Onno Eichelsheim, the head of the Dutch Military Intelligence and Security Service, told ANP in September that his country is “almost a supermarket for countries that want to develop these types of weapons.”
The northwest European nation’s intelligence services “every year uncover a substantial number of attempts by foreign entities to obtain know-how and materials for weapons of mass destruction,” wrote the outgoing ministers, Lilianne Ploumen for foreign trade, Bert Koenders of foreign affairs and Klaas Dijkhoff of defense.
Wim Kortenoeven, a former Dutch MP and an expert on the Middle East, told The Jerusalem Post on Friday: “The fact that the Dutch intelligence services are trying to prevent the acquisition by rogue states such as Iran of dual-use goods or precursors is obviously not enough.
“There should be a political and economic punishment for the perpetrators. They should be attacked, named and shamed in the UN and in the meeting rooms of the OPCW [the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] and the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency.
“And when caught, their purchasing agents in the Netherlands should be expelled or closed down.”
Kortenoeven added, “They are liable because dual-use goods are also subject to strict export licensing.
“But that does not and will not happen. Instead of aggressively fighting the proliferation of WMD [weapons of mass destruction] by Iran, the Dutch and other European actors jumped on the economic bandwagon as soon as the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the July 2015 Iran nuclear deal] was announced.”
The Dutch findings come a few weeks after intelligence officials in North Rhine-Westphalia said Iran made 32 attempts to obtain nuclear and missile goods in the German state in 2016.
Eichelsheim said the Military Intelligence and Security Service stops a significant number of attempts to obtain Dutch technology for chemical, biological and nuclear military programs. According to the Dutch media, “these can be raw materials for making chemical weapons, or heat-resistant materials and ball bearings. “One of these days you might just find such a part in a ballistic missile of Iran,” Eichelsheim told ANP.
Kortenoeven stressed the importance of the Netherlands learning from its history: “It was a Dutch businessman, Frans van Anraat, who supplied Saddam Hussein with the ingredient for the chemical weapons which he used to kill 5,000 Kurdish civilians in Halabja, in 1988.”
Leon de Winter, a prominent public intellectual, columnist and best-selling novelist in the Netherlands, told the Post that the revelations about Iran, Syria and Pakistan seeking advanced military technology are serious should be perceived as serious also because they are backed by “the head of the Dutch Military Intelligence Service, an organization which seems to be world class, as I was told by people who know. The MIVD [the intelligence service] is not a human intelligence- gathering service but is mainly working with cutting edge technology.”
De Winter said about the disclosures that “you always have to ask why the MIVD wants us to know this. It is a warning to the countries involved that the MIVD is watching them.
“The Netherlands seems to be following in the footsteps of the EU and suffering from the illusion that Iran’s elites are opening up to the West with the help of trade.
“MIVD is spoiling the party. So the MIVD is not only warning countries like Iran, but also the Dutch government to not walk blindly into Iran’s traps – apparently, the MIVD feels the government isn’t listening adequately to its reports. There is no other explanation for such a relatively vague story,” de Winter said.
The Dutch government declined to reveal the nature of the technology and the names of the companies that were involved in the illicit procurement efforts.