Spyworld Actu
New Dutch satellite station opens for gathering intelligence (EN)
RN Security and Defence editor Hans de Vreij, via Sigint Group
jeudi, 8 septembre 2005 / Spyworld

The Netherlands this week marked the beginning of a quantum leap in its intelligence-gathering capability. On Tuesday, representatives of both the Defence Intelligence and Security Service (MIVD) and its civilian counterpart, the General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) inaugurated a new satellite ground station near the village of Burum in the north of the country.

This station will be the most visible part of a new Dutch intelligence organisation called the NSO (’National Signals Intelligence Organisation’), which will provide the AIVD and MIVD with raw intelligence.

Intercepting communications

Initially, the NSO will concentrate on intercepting satellite communications. To this end, the present number of only two interception dishes will be increased to some 13 by the middle of next year. Eventually, that number is set to rise to twenty, which, according to experts, will make the Netherlands a much more important player in the intelligence field.

In the initial phase, the NSO will concentrate on intercepting satellite traffic ; at a later stage shortwave (HF) and other frequency ranges will also be integrated into the new service.

Colonel Ton van Nassau of the MIVD told Radio Netherlands that the NSO should not be seen as a separate, new intelligence agency : "The NSO is part of the Ministry of Defence but will support the AIVD and MIVD. Both services will receive all information that is intercepted by the [NSO] station."

The amount of raw intelligence gathered through satellite intercepts will vastly increase as the number of dishes grows. According to Colonel van Nassau the AIVD and MIVD have both recently taken the necessary steps in order to be able to process the increased flow of intelligence. Presumably, this refers both to code breaking capabilities and translation capacities.

Variety of purposes

The founding of the new NSO satellite ground station not only means that the Netherlands itself will get more intelligence products which can be used for a wide variety of purposes - ranging from counter-terrorism to monitoring the situation in countries and regions that are of interest to the Dutch authorities - it also means that signal-gathering will provide information that can be exchanged with the intelligence services of allied countries. Says Colonel van Nassau : "In the world of intelligence, it is obvious that when you have more, you can also ask for more. The position of the Netherlands will improve."