Security service boss quits over Iran nuclear scandal
31 January 2006
BRUSSELS — The chief of the Belgian security service resigned unexpectedly on Monday night amid talk that an explosive report will be published on Tuesday casting him in a highly negative light.
Justice Minister Laurette Onkelinx and Interior Minister Patrick Dewael said in a joint statement that Koen Dassen had tendered his “honorable” resignation as the head of the federal security service VS (or SE in French).
On request from Dewael, Dassen will exchange his present post for the position of “special expert for European and international aspects of safety and migration policy”.
The resignation came after talks between Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt and his deputy prime ministers Onkelinx and Dewael, newspaper ‘De Standaard’ reported on Tuesday.
It is rumoured that the resignation is linked to a report from Committee I, which will be tendered to the Senate later on Tuesday. The committee supervises the Belgian security services.
The report focuses on the supply in November 2004 of an isostatic press by the Temse-based firm Epsi to Iran. Since July 2004, US intelligence services have warned Belgium that such a press could be used to make nuclear weapons.
The export is allegedly in breach of international regulations that accompany the nuclear and military embargo on Iran.
The explosive report reportedly indicates that the Belgian security service withheld information about the dossier from Onkelinx. The position of Dassen was therefore untenable.
However, the involved ministers refused to comment further about the matter on Monday night.
The 51-year-old Dassen was appointed the head of the VS-SE in September 2002. Several months earlier, Godelieve Timmermans had resigned due to a critical audit of the security service.
Previously, the Antwerp lawyer had worked as the private secretary of former interior minister Antoine Duquesne. Dassen will remain in his current position until a replacement can be found.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news