THE HAGUE: The Dutch government has admitted that technology from the Netherlands may have been used to develop weapons of mass destruction in Iran , Pakistan or Syria .

Dutch intelligence services have received “indications in a number of cases” that “Dutch technology was used in programmes of weapons of mass destruction or for the means of transmission in Iran , Pakistan or Syria”, the outgoing ministers of defence, foreign affairs and foreign trade said in a letter published overnight on Wednesday.

In such cases, customs officials can launch investigations which may lead to prosecutions, they added in their reply to a question posed in parliament.

Dutch intelligence services “every year uncover a substantial number of attempts by foreign entities to obtain know-how and materials for weapons of mass destruction”, they wrote.

An MP from Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s VVD party had raised the issue in parliament after revelations made by the head of military intelligence Onno Eichelsheim in an interview with the Dutch news agency ANP last month.

Eichelsheim said the Netherlands was “almost a supermarket for countries that want to develop these types of weapons” and warned that Dutch businesses and scientific establishments were perhaps not fully aware of the extent of the problem.