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Sigint Organisation building plans
[1 march 2005, Amsterdam, the Netherlands]
Freedom is publishing four building plans for the
new Dutch National Sigint Organisation (NSO).
The NSO was started in 2003 with the purpose to expand
satellite sigint capabilities for Dutch intel. Until
now satellite sigint is done through a two dish
facility at Zoutkamp, the Netherlands, operated by the
military intel service (MIVD). The NSO will become the
third intel service in the Netherlands next to the
military MIVD and the civilian AIVD.
The ministry of Defence first tried to expand the
existing location at Zoutkamp but was blocked in court
by people living close to it. The court ruled that
provisions in the municipal land-use plan would
conflict with such a large military installation. The
ministry could also not counter safety concerns. At the
end of 2004 the ministry of Defence found a new
location at Burum which is about 10 km from Zoutkamp.
This is actually a satellite ground station operated by
Xantic in which Dutch telco KPN has a 65%
share. The satellite ground station (aerial photo) was build in the
seventies by the then state-owned PTT of which KPN is
the successor. The ministry of Defence is buying part
of the Xantic site to build its new sigint
Later this year the ministry of Defence will tear down
two large existing dishes at the Xantic site and then
build 2 large and 13 smaller dishes. The building maps
show on which part of the Xantic site the NSO will
build its sigint installation. The building map of the
dishes has the title 'SMPS project, Antenna plan'.
NSO ground station borders( hi-res)
Gives an overview of the whole Xantic facility and
shows what part is going to be used by the NSO.
Burum site reserve positions en mobile
Shows a plan to position the different dishes,
including mobile positions
Building plan dishes 1 - 6 (hi-res)
Shows technical details of dishes 1 - 6
Building plan dishes 7 - 13 (hi-res)
Shows technical details of dishes 7 -13 and the interim
The maps also mention which satellites the NSO dishes
will intercept: 7 for Intelsat
and 8 for Inmarsat. Besides that the maps have some
technical information about position and type of the
dishes. There is also an 'interim building' on the map
which is an indication of the hurry the NSO is in to
get everything working. But not all is settled yet as
the map also says 'cables to HQ to be defined'. The
Xantic location in Burum is already connected to the
Netherlands armed forces integrated network (Nafin):
the army is a Xantic costumer.
The strange symbioses between Xantic and the NSO will
result into the Xantic dishes handling Intelsat and
Inmarsat traffic and a few meters away the NSO dishes
picking up that same traffic. In other words Xantic is
selling part of its facility to have its own costumers
bugged. Xantic has no legal obligation to assist in
In the Dutch parliament there has been little
discussion about the expansion of satellite snooping.
According to the ministry of defence the Netherlands
need the extra dishes to combat terrorism and support
Dutch troops overseas. But in answers to questions from
the parliament's defence committee the minister of
defence also acknowledged that the large facility will
give the Netherlands a very good position to trade
intelligence with allied intelligence services. This
argument explains why the Netherlands are expanding
their modest snooping operation into one of the biggest
facilities in Europe.
Dutch intelligence services are allowed by law to
intercept any wireless communication without prior
approval of a judge or minister (rules for non-wireless
communication are more strict; tapping a land-line
telephone will require permission from a minister). The
intelligence services can freely search the airwaves
for interesting communications. A 'word-list' to search
certain words and names in wireless communication
requires the once-a-year approval of the entire list by
the minister of Interior.
All pictures can also be downloaded from a html zip file.