Sunday, August 20, 2006

Hezbollah night-vision equipment diverted from UN anti-drug programme

The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

Israeli intelligence officials have complained to Britain and the United States that sensitive night-vision equipment recovered from Hezbollah fighters during the war in Lebanon had been exported by Britain to Iran.

[snip]

one of the pieces of equipment is a Thermo-vision 1000 LR tactical night-vision system, serial No. 155010, part No. 193960, manufactured by Agema, a high-tech equipment company with branches in Bedfordshire, England, and San Diego.

[snip]

The equipment, which needed special export-license approval from the British government, was passed to the Iranians through a program run and administered by the U.N. Drug Control Program. The equipment uses infrared imaging to provide nighttime surveillance that allows the user to detect people and vehicles moving in the dark at a range of several miles.



The report quotes an anonymous British Foreign Office official:

"We've been encouraging the Iranians as part of their anti-narcotics program, and there was an export in 2003 ... as part of the heroin and opium smuggling program. This is an area where we try not to let the nuclear issue prevent cooperation on countering narcotics"
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