THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- The Dutch government has ordered a criminal investigation into the country's largest engineering company for allegedly exporting sensitive nuclear equipment to Pakistan in violation of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
Justice ministry officials confirmed Wednesday that an investigation had been ordered into the Amsterdam-based FDO laboratory, a subsidiary of VMF-Stork, the country's largest engineering firm for illegal nuclear sales to Pakistan.
The case came amid growing concern in the Netherlands over illegal exports of nuclear supplies and theft of nuclear technology involving Pakistan, which is believed to be building a small uranium enrichment plant.
Sources said the FDO laboratory was believed to have sold nine consignments of nuclear plant material to Pakistan.
At least one of the shipments allegedly involved material covered by the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and was sold without the required government export license, the sources said.
Pakistan has refused to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, which is aimed at halting the spread of nuclear arms.
Last year a similar investigation was ordered into nuclear sales to Pakistan by the Van Doorn Engineering Co.
In a 1980 report on nuclear technology theft in the Netherlands, a parliamentary commission said Pakistan was believed to be building a small uranium enrichment plant using technology lifted from the Urenco enrichment facility at Almelo in eastern Holland.
The commission said a Pakistani nuclear scientist, Dr. Abdul Quadeer Kahn, gathered secret information on the construction of a uranium enrichment centrifuge while working for FDO, the firm now under investigation.
While at FDO, from 1972 to 1976, Khan worked on metal technology for the Urenco ultra-centrifuge owned by the Netherlands, Great Britain and West Germany. Khan returned suddenly to Pakistan in 1976.
'It can be assumed,' the commission said, 'that Pakistan, through Kahn, has been able to procure sensitve enrichment technology. In this way the country probably has been able to achieve a considerable time-saving in setting-up of a pilot installation for the enrichment of uranium.'