BBC
Nato spy revelations 'staggering'

Thursday, 9 March, 2000


Conservatives are calling for an official inquiry into reports that Nato's bombing of Serbia during the Kosovo war was compromised by a spy at the heart of the western alliance.
Shadow defence spokesman Iain Duncan Smith said that Nato's servicemen had the right to know that they could trust the alliance's ability to protect them as they flew bombing missions over Serbia.
The call for an inquiry came after the BBC learned that bombing plans and other information may have been passed from inside Nato to the Yugoslav military in Belgrade during the first two weeks of the conflict.
The allegations, denied by Nato, are made in a BBC television documentary to be broadcast on Sunday.
"The question has long been why did Nato fail to hit key targets," said Mr Duncan Smith.
"We now realise that in the early stages of the war it would have been nigh on impossible for our servicemen to hit anything because warnings were being passed on.
"Our servicemen have a right to know that they can trust the system to deliver them on target without necessary risk."

Lib Dems 'staggered'
According to the BBC documentary, the information passed to Belgrade is believed to have included target plans and flight paths.
Sources in the US Air Force told the programme that the most sensitive Nato information was initially available to 600 people.
When that number was cut back to 100, the suspected leaks to Belgrade stopped.
Liberal Democrat defence spokesman Menzies Campbell said: "This was the most sensitive information of all available at that time in the campaign.
"For 600 people to have access to it seems fairly contrary to the principle of need to know.
"Normally you keep sensitive information only accessible to those who have to know."
Mr Campbell said that some Czech intelligence officers working for Nato were "in fairly intimate contact with old friends in Moscow", the possible route of information to Belgrade.
He added: "One of the Stealth fighter-bombers was shot down in circumstances that appeared to be surprising. A possible explanation for that may have been that the Serbs knew where it was coming from."

'Risk accepted'
Bruce George, chairman of the Commons defence committee, said that military chiefs "take it as a given that information is going to leak out" during a conflict.
"Nato's attitude appears relaxed but I don't know if that masks a real concern," he said.
"If you are fighting a coalition war then a lot of people are going to be involved in any strike. There could be eight, nine, 10 different air forces involved.
"There were some countries involved in the attacks whose governments were less than eulogistic with Nato.
"Even if the Serbs knew in the first couple of week, they couldn't do very much about it.
"There were a vast number of sorties, the air forces were flying at a level beyond the range of their air defence and all they could do really would be to improve their air defence and to move their personnel or papers around."

Moral Combat: Nato At War, will be broadcast on Sunday on BBC Two at 9pm.



Original article