“Dutch engineer carried out Iranian nuclear sabotage”: VK

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A Dutch national was involved in a US and Israeli-led mission to sabotage an Iranian nuclear complex in 2007, without the knowledge of the Dutch government, the Volkskrant reported on Monday.

Erik van Sabben played “a crucial role” in releasing a “very advanced” software virus known as Stuxnet into the system controlling the underground plant, bringing the Iranian nuclear programme to a halt, the paper said. 

Van Sabben, a civil engineer by profession, died in a motorbike crash near his home in Dubai two years later.

The paper has been investigating the sabotage campaign for two years and has spoken to dozens of people who were involved, including 19 people who work for the Dutch security services AIVD and MIVD. 

The paper reported in 2019 that the Netherlands had a key role in the sabotage campaign, but at the time the virus was thought to have been spread by an Iranian engineer. Stuxnet delayed the Iranian nuclear programme by several years and spread to computers worldwide. 

The government of the day, the fourth led by the CDA’s Jan Pieter Balkenende, was not informed that a Dutch national was the one who actually spread the virus and nor was the parliamentary committee which is briefed on security service work, the paper said.  

Several MPs have now called for an investigation into the paper’s claims. The Stuxnet operation is also the subject of an NPO 2 documentary series which starts on Monday evening. 

According to the paper, Van Sabben was recruited by the AIVD in 2005. “He did business in Iran and had an Iranian wife with family there,” Volkskrant journalist Huib Modderkolk is quoted as saying. UAE newspaper The National carried a short profile of him after his death.

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