Lubbers: CIA stopte vervolging Khan

De Amerikaanse inlichtingendienst CIA heeft in 1975 en in 1986 de arrestatie van de Pakistaanse atoomspion Khan tegengehouden. Dat heeft voormalig premier Lubbers gezegd in het VPRO-radioprogramma Argos.

De Amerikaanse krant de New York Times bracht de zaak vorig jaar al aan het licht op basis van anonieme bronnen. Lubbers bevestigt het verhaal nu.

Abdul Khan stal in de jaren zeventig atoomgeheimen van de Nederlandse Ultra Centrifuge, een onderdeel van Urenco in Almelo. Daarmee bouwde hij in de jaren negentig de Pakistaanse atoombom. Hij verkocht daarnaast zijn kennis door aan Iran, Noord-Korea en Libië.

In 1975 waren er wel vermoedens over de activiteiten van Khan, en is overwogen om hem te arresteren. Volgens Lubbers wilde de CIA Khan zijn gang laten gaan om meer informatie te krijgen.

In de jaren tachtig werd Khan alsnog voor de rechter gebracht, maar kwam hij wegens vormfouten op vrije voeten. Lubbers, die op dat moment premier was, wilde verder procederen. Hij zag daarvan af op advies van de veiligheidsdiensten.

Minister Donner van Justitie ontkende vorig jaar nog dat er inmenging was van de geheime diensten in de zaak-Khan.

De VPRO deed onderzoek naar de zaak in samenwerking met de Japanse televisie. Die maakt een documentaire over de zaak omdat het dit jaar zestig jaar is geleden dat het land werd getroffen door twee Amerikaanse atoombommen, op de steden Hiroshima en Nagasaki.


Bij aanstaande Hiroshima- en Nagasaki- herdenkingen, ook aandacht voor de Nederlandse rol bij de Pakistaanse Atoombom.

Met name in Japan wil men in augustus tijdens de herdenking van de slachtoffers van de atoombommen op Hiroshima en Nagasaki aandacht schenken aan de Nederlandse betrokkenheid bij de totstandkoming van de Pakistaanse Atoombom en de verdere verspreiding van nucleaire kennis.

Volgens informatie van Ultracentrifuge-klokkenluider Frits Veerman zal vanaf 6 mei a.s. een Japanse TV- ploeg enkele maanden in Nederland verblijven om het politieke schandaal in beeld te brengen.

In een uitzending van het radioprogramma Argos op 29 april 2005 wordt de dubieuze rol die de Nederlandse overheid, met name de ministeries, inlichtingendienst BVD/ AIVD en de rechterlijke macht speelt met nieuwe gegevens uit geheime rapporten toegelicht.

Het programma is nog te beluisteren op de website van de VPRO-radio (

De cameraploeg in actie

De uitzending vind plaats op 8 augustus op de Japanse TV meer foto's

Hiroshima 60 years later
[NHK World TV](In English)
Aug.7,Sun. 3:10 - 3:35(JST)

On the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing, the city of Hiroshima sends out a message to the world for the abolition of all nuclear weapons. NHK World's Lorne Saxberg brings you reports from Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Peace Memorial Museum, as well as the highlights of the August 6th memorial ceremony.
For the details, please check the "e-GUIDE".


TAPE #1 & #2

Thank y ou for joining us in-- on our interview. Y ou know-- as y ou understand, y ou know, we're here from Hiroshima making a documentary on the 60th anniversary. And I'm very much looking at the-- 60-- well, history of nuclear proliferation-- especially with the focus on the Khan case. And-- well, first of all, I'd like to start off with-- y ou know-- talking a bit about Urenco (PH)
and-- y ou know-- I'm told it was created in 1970. And I'm just wondering, y ou know, you-- around that period, y ou were the economic affairs minister. And I was just wondering what the political economic situation was in Holland that called for the creation of-- uranium enrichment plant in Holland.
Let me-- start by explaining to y ou that the nuclear technology enrichment of uranium-- was developed in the Netherlands, specifically in the Netherlands-- much before 1970. But at some point, it has to be a commercial venture. And then we decided to partner-- with-- Germany and the UK. And that is what Urenco
then became. So when I became a minister in 1973 for economic affairs.
In my portfolio was this industrial activity based on the knowledge as developed in the Netherlands for enriching uranium. So that is the Urenco story in short. In my memory, this was not my decision, it was done before. But it had matured to a-- an enterprise, Urenco. So it was still at the very beginning, but it was
developing with the three country.
This was, of course, protected because it was-- sensitive-- technology. I wouldn't say only in relation to the proliferation risks, but also just because it was confidential because it was intellectual property. For that reason. So when I was a-- a (UNINTEL) minister, this is the history. It's good for y ou, especially for the Japanese people to be aware that in the European Union much
earlier, one had seen the creation of (UNINTEL) .This is a-- what we call a European community which was established af ter the second world war. But now we are talking the-- the '50s, '20 years earlier on the basis that the use of-- nuclear technology forweapons was one thing, this was for France and the UK.
But next to that, there was a need in Europe to develop for peace purposes nuclear-- technology.
And that was the idea, part of that was Urenco. And we had a-- already those days a reactor center for the same purposes in a small village called Patencho (PH) .This is a bit of background, where are we in 1973. Yes, we start to produce enriched uranium. And-- I was the responsible minister and I was informed sh'ortly when I was in office .
I don't know exactly the day, but not that long that-- one has come to the conclusions that one of the trainees was very young gentlemen who had done study in Delft Technical University. He was allowed to work there. Probably-- transgressed the rules and took some material home and maybe was copying that and so on, so there came an investigation in this young Pakistani gentlemen
This was at the time y ou were the minister?
RUED LUBBERS: Yes, I was the minister. I remember those meetings, we were concerned. An~--came of course an instruction to the intelligence services in the Netherlands to have a very close look into that. The next (UNINTEL) not long af ter that that
they reported to me. We had a meeting with the civil servants informing me as
TAPE #1 & #2 PG.13 /14
No, no. To be very honest, no. Not at all I think. I cannot remember that I had-- and I had many conversations, of course, as prime minister on very important topics. Never. I think that never came to that level, no.
As y ou said, y ou know, now is 2005 and-- y ou know-- now y ou can say many things. And do you-- looking back, do y ou regret-- m-- maybe those decision about Kahn in the '70s and 180s or-- how do y ou think--
No, I don't regret them. I see this is part of history, learning lessons. Of course something went wrong. But to say to regret it's not totally-- I (UNINTEL) about priorities. I think if y ou go to a-- American President or if y ou see the Secretary of State, which we sit many-- many times I was-- twice sharing the European Union as the president, y ou have a whole agenda. Even now when I think back, I cannot imagine what I said that I should have put on the agenda Kahn because there was something cooking which could become a problem at a certain moment. No. I think-- and in all honesty, those daysI thought in the dimension of building nuclear capacity in Pakistan, not capacity in a nUffiber of countries. What we know by now, that came much later.
So in those days, y ou couldn't imagine Pakistan being a nuclear state?
I could imagine it. Pakistan was (UNINTEL) but I could not imagine that Kahn was already on his next phase. He was not only building the capacity in Pakistan, but he was offering-- his possibilities to other states. That became a proliferation thing. It was not only the Pakistan thing.
Okay-- y ou might have seen this person on-- on the news or something, but-- y ou know-- we spoke to an ex-colleague of Mr. Kahn--
Mr. Kahn called Fritz Vim (PH), I think he's well-known in Holland. And I mean, he was telling us, like, y ou know-- he gave a lot of information to (UNINTEL) about-- y ou know-- getting letters--
QUESTION: Yeah, and he got letters from Kahn and stuff. And he told us that-- y ou know-- that (UNINTEL) was telling him not to-- keep it-- well-- he told us, y ou know--
Well shut his mouth, y ou know?
RUED LUBBERS: Sure, yeah, keep your mouth shut.
QUESTION: And can you-- do-- do you-- can y ou understand this? Do y ou think this could be true, or-- I mean--
RUED LUBBERS: I think that could be true. I think it could be true. I don1t know if it is true, but could it be true? Yes. I think this was part of this culture, give us all the information, don't talk to us and welll follow up. So and during the cold war, at times, there was a strong habit in this following information (UNINTEL) a lot of-- the-- it was not about the effectiveness in the end, it was to be informed.
And it was really the culture and the routine. And I said earlier there was, of course, no platform of U.N. or Vienna or so to do this. So there's the
superpower itself. This didn't stop at the end of the cold war. And there is a
bit of my worry. Because if you-- if y ou allow me to give another example, we know by now that
TAPE #1 & #2 PG.14 /14
Osama Bin Laden was followed for a long time by the services in Washington. It was not that it was not known. I mean, it was not a very unpleasant surprise what happened to (UNINTEL) the twin towers in New York. I mean, it-- there was Osama already seven years before, they followed him precisely. And it is intriguing to see how could they stop then Osama Bin Laden when they Knew where he was, what he was doing. And there was information all the time. But there--
They didn't find a way to block it. They didn't mean that the services didn't
function. They functioned and functioned. And they reported.
But it-- it was not translated in an effective action. And that is a lesson to
be learned that, in general, one waits too long. And there we are back then,
how to be more effective. And I am biased to the U.N. and Vienna and--
(UNINTEL) them that they can do their job in an effective way and-- and building on that.
And not to have this endless discussion about-- the risks and the volatile
negotiations and the pressure of the United States and a few other countries on what is in Iran, but now it's North Korea. I think that this is still the
fundamental point- that you have to make a shift change, which was not possible in the cold war, yes, which we are discussing which is possible today.
Now the lay-- really layman's question but, you know, going back to that Fritz-- Fritz Vim (UNINTEL) you know-- keeping it quiet. Can you tell us, you know, why you have to keep this so covered up, you know, very secret? Can you tell us why?
Yeah, that's very clear to me why-- why-- at the moment-- that you go for a system of secret services, because you think you will be more effective to get a grip on what's really happening, a central point is the secrecy, is the secrecy.
So that is the choice. Not to go in public, to do it-- in secrecy.
I can assure you, this is not only on the nuclear thing-- I'm absolutely sure
that there are more-- criminality in the world, if you like, which is followed-- terrorists these days, which are very much followed by services where if you or I would go to them with information, they would say to me, hush, hush, leave it.
I don't know, you have to check in Japan how the services there work. So this is not exceptional. This is normal. The relevant question, of course, is how then does democracy functiQn? And is it effective? And-- the-- the question of effectiveness we discussed sufficiently. We can see it was all together not that effective. We'd better become effective as of today. And that's not to have more secret services and information and all that. That's not the real point, it's the action point what to do.
Some would say, you know, some reports say that-- you know-- the gov-- it would be a big scandal-- embar-- embarrassment for the Dutch Government if this came out. Was there that kind of element?
No, I never saw it as an embarrassment. And I decided those days to live up to my obligations not to (UNINTEL PHRASE) the Japanese TV was not sitting here in the Netherlands 20 years ago. But then gradually you say this is history, this can be told. So I think what you ask me now is not any longer reason to be discrete. I have not studied all the files and the details. But the broad lines are clear, and I think they are Washington also clear. You can--


Dit is een origineel persbericht.

CIA weerhield Nederlandse regering tweemaal van ingrijpen in zaak-Khan

Ruud Lubbers over rol van de Amerikaanse inlichtingendienst in atoomschandaal

Ex-premier Lubbers geeft in een openhartig interview toe dat de Nederlandse regering in 1975 en 1986 de Pakistaanse atoomgeleerde en spion Abdul Khan heeft laten lopen op instigatie van de CIA. 'De Amerikaanse inlichtingendienst gaf er de voorkeur aan om de
man niet vast te zetten maar te volgen.' Lubbers zegt dat vandaag in het VPRO-programma Argos op Radio 1. Khan en de door hem in Nederland gestolen atoomgeheimen hebben aan de wieg gestaan van de Pakistaanse atoombom. Bovendien heeft Khan vorig jaar publiekelijk toegegeven deze informatie te hebben doorverkocht aan Libië, Noord-Korea en Iran.

Ruud Lubbers kreeg in 1975 als minister van Economische Zaken informatie over wat eerst leek op industriële spionage. De Pakistaanse ingenieur Abdul Khan was gedetacheerd bij het Almelose bedrijf Urenco en werd ervan verdacht geheime informatie over uraniumverrijking mee naar huis te nemen en daar te kopiëren. Na overleg met de BVD werd volstaan met de maatregel Khan over te plaatsen en hem de toegang tot het
Urenco-complex te ontzeggen. Ook de Amerikaanse inlichtingendienst CIA werd ingelicht.
Ondanks dat er serieuze verdenking bestond, werd Khan niet strafrechtelijk vervolgd. De CIA had daarom verzocht, vertelt Lubbers nu: 'De Amerikaanse inlichtingendienst gaf er de voorkeur aan om de man niet vast te zetten maar te volgen. De Amerikaanse inlichtingendienst heeft hier gepraktiseerd: geef ons alle informatie, maar zet die man niet vast. Laat hem maar gaan, wij volgen hem en dan krijgen we meer informatie.'
Blijkbaar ontging het Khan zelf niet dat hij door de mand was gevallen, want eind 1975 keerde hij niet meer terug van een vakantie in Pakistan.

In maart 1979 meldde de Duitse televisie dat Pakistan toegang had tot de
Urenco-technologie via Abdul Kahn. Nederland sloeg internationaal een modderfiguur. De Nederlandse justitie begon een onderzoek en dat leidde er toe dat Khan, die in Pakistan zat, in 1983 bij verstek werd veroordeeld tot vier jaar gevangenisstraf. Een vonnis dat in 1985 in hoger beroep werd vernietigd wegens een vormfout. Toch waren er nog juridische
mogelijkheden om de strafzaak over te doen. Lubbers, die inmiddels premier was, zegt daarover dat hij daar toen voorstander van was. Maar het gebeurde niet, want de inlichtingendiensten waren er niet voor. Lubbers was daar niet blij mee, vertelt hij: 'Ik zeg: wat zijn we nou aan het doen? We volgen die man al tien jaar. Kennelijk is hij serieus bezig. En dan hoor ik weer: nee, laat dat maar aan de diensten over. Die zijn effectiever en dat moeten wij ook niet als Nederland willen.'

In de overwegingen waarom hij als premier van Nederland, ondanks zijn twijfels, toch akkoord ging, speelde volgens Lubbers de Koude Oorlog een grote rol: 'We zaten toen ook nog volop in de Koude Oorlog - midden tachtiger jaren, we zijn bezig met het plaatsen van middellange afstandswapens en zo. Dit was voor mij ook toen: het laatste woord is niet Den Haag, maar Washington. Er is geen twijfel over dat die alles wisten en alles hoorden. De afweging wat de beste koers is, zag ik niet als iets wat de Nederlandse premier moest doen.' In juni 1986 ontving de advocaat van Khan een brief dat het Openbaar Ministerie afzag van verdere vervolging.
Lubbers vindt, terugkijkend, dat het eigenlijk niet kan dat Khan onder de neus van de geheime diensten kon doorwerken aan de Pakistaanse atoombom. Er naar gevraagd sluit hij niet helemaal uit dat er dubbele agenda's waren, met het oog op de kille verhoudingen tussen oost en west. India, dat door de VS werd beschouwd als een bondgenoot van de
Sovjet Unie, beschikte immers al langer over een atoombom.


ISBN 90-5087-027-9

meer artikelen

back home