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Selling the West’s Nuclear Secrets with Spy Equipment

Adrian Mudd   June 18, 2008

A whistleblower has claimed that government officials offered spy equipment to Pakistan to steal nuclear weapons. It’s a scary thought: the idea that there’s an open ‘spy shop’ where British nuclear secrets can be swapped and sold. But one whistleblower, the Sunday Times reported, has made the extraordinary claim that corrupt government officials have placed the UK’s nuclear weapon secrets up for sale in Pakistan and other states.

Secrets for Sale

Selling the West's nuclear Secrets

A 37-year-old former Turkish translator and FBI employee Sibel Edmonds told the Sunday Times that foreign intelligence agents enlisted the support of American officials to obtain a network of ‘moles in sensitive military and nuclear institutions’. Edmonds said that she heard one senior official in America was being paid by Turkish agents who had set up a ‘spy shop’ to sell information on to the black market : buyers included Pakistan.

It sounds like something from a Bond movie, but the notion that a shop could be selling on the West’s nuclear and military secrets is extraordinary. It raises massive questions over national and international security as rogue states can in theory simply buy the West’s deadly nuclear secrets from the spy shop aimed at black market if the whistleblower’s claims are true.

Black Market Spy Shop

The former FBI translator listened to hundreds of intercepted phone calls during her time with the security agency. But the top American official the translator has accused of selling secrets in a kind of black market spy shop has denied vigorously the allegations. The whistleblower maintains that secrets were sold, she told the Sunday Times: ‘He was aiding foreign operatives against US interests by passing them highly classified information, not only from the State Department but also from the Pentagon, in exchange for money, position and political objectives.

Infiltrated by Counter-Surveillance and Spies

The West has always had an on-going history and controversy around the role of spies and secrets : some believe despite counter-surveillance that we are already heavily infiltrated by spies from countries such as Pakistan looking to obtain nuclear bomb technology. The idea however that a kind of spy shop exists that sells such sensitive and dangerous secrets in exchange for money, status of power is frightening. The FBI translator added: ‘If you made public all the information that the FBI have on this case, you will see very high-level people going through criminal trials.’