German Intelligence Suspected of Planting
WASHINGTON -- Not only was it supposedly a great "intelligence
coup," but the news from Germany in August 1994 was downright
scary. German police had arrested three plutonium smugglers at
the airport in Munich. The nuclear bandits, on a Lufthansa
flight from Moscow, were carrying 364 grams (13 ounces) of the
highly poisonous bomb material.
The news flashed around the world and got big play in the
American media. Western intelligence agencies said the arrest
justified fears about Russians selling bomb-grade nuclear
material. But now, evidence is growing that the German
intelligence service, BND, instigated the plutonium smuggling to
create a dramatic international incident.
Special parliamentary committees in Bonn as well as in Bavaria's
provincial government are examining what has become known as
"the BND plutonium affair." A BND contract agent named "Rafa"
told the Bonn committee that the plutonium deal was a "set-up"
from the start. According to Rafa, the BND was part of the plot
and lied to Bavarian police.
BND director Konrad Porzner and Bernd Schmidbauer, Chancellor
Helmut Kohl's assistant for intelligence matters, are in danger
of losing their jobs over the controversy, which has reportedly
caused an upheaval inside the Germany intelligence community.
The opposition Greens and Social Democrats suspect that the BND
wanted to hype its own importance -- and exacerbate Western
fears -- with the bogus plutonium arrest.
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