By Jubin Katiraie
A new German intelligence report from the state of Hesse on Wednesday outlined Iran’s illicit espionage activities in the central European country, including efforts to obtain weapons of mass destruction during 2018.
The Hesse report noted that: “Weapons of mass destruction continues to be a powerful political instrument that can shake the stability of a whole state structure in both regional and international crisis situations. In the context of proliferation, states such as Iran and North Korea try to acquire and redistribute such weapons, for example by disguising transport routes via third countries. The aim of such intelligence measures is to circumvent control mechanisms in states that are not subject to special embargo regulations.”
The report mentions cyber espionage (page 227 last paragraph): “During the reporting period, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution received a large number of references to suspected cases of potential economic and scientific espionage against Hessian companies and institutions.
The LGV examined these indications in cooperation with the federal and state security authorities and helped those affected to ward off further attacks. Frequently, research institutions and research-intensive sectors were affected. Iranian and Chinese cyber activities, in particular, indicate a continuing interest in economic and scientific goals.”
The intelligence report said that foreign academics seek to obtain knowledge about the uranium enrichment process especially Iran (page 233):
“The topic "guest scientist" is also related to proliferation issues. The scientific exchange of students and trained professionals between universities and research institutions are politically and economically desirable and useful, but this is often done with the knowledge of the respective foreign intelligence services. Relevant states with such illegal procurement methods are Iran, North Korea, and Pakistan in particular.”
“An example of this is the field of electrical engineering combined with the use of centrifuges in the process of uranium enrichment. There are always suspicious moments here that foreign intelligence services put pressure on their own visiting scientists to obtain the desired technical know-how. Another example of corporate governance is the research exchanges of university institutes in the chemical-biological process sector.”
The report’s findings mirrored the conclusions from German state intelligence reports in the states of Bavaria and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
In May, The Bavaria intelligence report said that Iran is “making efforts to expand its conventional arsenal of weapons with weapons of mass destruction.”
The German intelligence agency for the northern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern wrote in its May report that: “The fight against the illegal proliferation of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons of mass destruction and the materials needed for their manufacture, as well as the corresponding delivery systems [e.g. rockets], including the necessary knowledge, in cooperation with other authorities, is also the responsibility of counterintelligence.”
The intelligence report continued, “From these points of view, it is essentially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea [North Korea] and the Syrian Arab Republic that needs to be mentioned. The intelligence services of these countries, in many ways, are involved in unlawful procurement activities in the field of proliferation, using globally oriented, conspiratorial business and commercial structures.”