China denies being behind Pelindaba break-in

2015-03-01 12:15

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Johannesburg - China has vehemently denied spy cable leaks that it was behind the 2007 break-in at South Africa’s Pelindaba Nuclear Research Centre.

According to the Sunday Independent, Pan Peng, a spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Pretoria, said the accusation was a complete fabrication, labelling it ridiculous.

However, one of the top secret State Security Agency (SSA) reports from 2009 leaked to Al Jazeera states that China’s aim was to steal technology to gain advantage in a new type of nuclear power generation.

Simple burglary

At the time the government dismissed that break-in as a simple burglary even though two groups of armed men cut through a fence surrounding the nuclear facility, disabled alarms and shot a man who interrupted them.

The leaked report indicates that South Africa suspected China as having been behind the move. It said China went on to develop its own version of the same technology which South Africa later abandoned.

Al Jazeera’s investigative unit last week released hundreds of pages of secret intelligence documents written by the SSA and foreign intelligence services, including Britain’s MI6, Israel’s Mossad, Russia’s Federal Security Service and intelligence agents from South Korea.

The cables revealed how intelligence was shared between the SSA and international intelligence agencies, including the CIA in the US.

The spy cables span a period from 2006 to the end of 2014, and include detailed briefings and analyses written by the operatives.

Hidden agenda

On Thursday it was reported that the leak of classified information may have a much more sinister agenda than just the release of state secrets, according to reports.

The Institute for Security Studies’ Anton du Plessis told Eyewitness News that the leaks may have stemmed from someone with a global political agenda.

He said this agenda seems to play into two scenarios.

Du Plessis told EWN that one is the negotiations around Iran's nuclear programme and the engagement the United States has with that, and the second one is linked to the Israeli elections and government.

Red 24’s Ryan Cummings told EWN that it seemed that the leaks were part of a greater strategy.


According to City Press, experts suspect that there could be a singular source of the documents, even though the information within the cables comes from around the world.

Rumours have also made the rounds that American information technology expert Edward Snowden might have played a part in the spy cables leak.

On Tuesday Al Jazeera denied that Snowden played any part in the latest leak, saying that unlike Snowden’s leak, which dealt with signal intelligence, these cables were operational in their nature and deal with human intelligence or humans.

- For more on the spy cables, click here, or visit Al Jazeera.

Read more on:    ssa  |  china  |  spy cables

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