Sixtieth edition of the N&O column / Spooks newsletter

(Date: Fri, 02 May 2003 19:38:55 +0200)

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Intelligence news

A couple of interesting articles can be found on these websites:

JMM found more on the BBC website. Here is a round-up.

Russia

Source: BBC News Online.

A special exhibition in Moscow marks the 60th anniversary of Smersh's founding. The security organ, set up during World War ll, was one of the most powerful and dreaded tools of the Soviet wartime regime. Its name, taken from the Russian Smert Shpionam, or Death to Spies, was said to have been coined by Stalin himself. Directly subordinated to the Soviet leader, it was used to infiltrate the Nazi secret services and to enforce order and loyalty on the war front.

The exhibition includes a number of interesting spy related gadgets. One display is devoted to the history of "funkspiel", or radio games with the German counter-intelligence, which helped Smersh track down saboteurs.

Japan

Source: BBC News Online

As mentioned last month, Japan has launched its first ever spy satellites. The country buys commercial satellite photos from the US and France but wanted intelligence independence. North Korea's launch of a Taepodong-1 ballistic missile over Japan in 1998, however, served as a wake-up call.

"It really shocked the Japanese. They realised that they've got to wake up and not be 100% reliant on the US," Victor Cha, professor of government and Asian studies at Washington DC's Georgetown University told BBC News Online.

Peru

Source: BBC News Online

The former Peruvian intelligence chief Vladimiro Montesinos - a close aide of the disgraced former President Alberto Fujimori - has been sentenced to five years imprisonment for corruption. He is already serving a nine-year term for illegally taking control of Peru's intelligence agency, and is due to stand trial on more than 50 other charges.

USA / N.Korea

Source: BBC News Online

The US Air Force has resumed reconnaissance flights in international airspace off North Korea, 11 days after a US plane was intercepted by North Korean fighters jets.

The missions were suspended after the 2 March incident when four North Korean planes intercepted an unarmed and unescorted RC-135S aircraft over the Sea of Japan, about 150 miles (240 kilometres) off North Korea's coast.

Ukraine

Source: Pravda

The Ukrainian Security Service has posted several documents about the meltdown at the Chernobyl nuclear-power station (among other things) on its webpage on the threshold of the commemoration of the 17th anniversary of the tragedy. One hundred and twenty-one documents in total have been posted.

The documents show that problems started at the Chernobyl nuclear-power plant long before the explosion at the fourth power-generating unit.

In addition, the KGB had informed the Party leadership of mistakes that had taken place during the construction of the plant. In particular, in 1984, the KGB came to the conclusion that the third and the fourth units of the Chernobyl nuclear plant had serious construction flaws, which had caused cracks in the block domes. Secret reports mention an emergency situation at the plant in 1982 as well.

The majority of these documents on the site of the Ukrainian Security Service were not exposed to the public eye during the Soviet era.


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