Jeffrey LewisMI5 Document on Proliferation

The Guardian reports that a 2003 MI5 document, Companies and Organisations of Proliferation Concern, identifies more than 360 private companies, university departments and government organisations in eight countries as having “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.

British readers apparently have some backstory on this document, related to Pakistani procurement efforts in the UK and a controversy over whether MI5 was bugging the Pakistani embassy.

MI5 has a very nice website by the way.


  1. Michael Roston (History)

    Yeah, but President Bush says you are wrong in his big anti-terror speech before the NED last week:

    “The United States, working with Great Britain, Pakistan, and other nations, has exposed and disrupted a major black-market operation in nuclear technology led by A.Q. Khan.”

    About face! Apparently, Pakistan, who sheltered and prevented the prosecution of Khan, is more important than other nations, such as Germany and Italy, who actually helped us make the interdiction (which was phony anyways) that first led to the formal disruption of the network in the first place.

    European schools will soon start offering degrees in Crawfordology.