18 Nov 2009

SIS puts universities on WMD alert

10:37 am on 18 November 2009

The Security Intelligence Service (SIS) has been criticised for putting universities on alert about technology associated with weapons of mass destruction.

The Tertiary Education Union says the SIS has asked vice-chancellors to watch out for individuals who may be trying to gain the skills, technology or knowledge to develop such weapons.

The union's president, Tom Ryan, says the SIS didn't consult with staff or student organisations, and he says spy agencies should not be distributing material on university campuses.

Dr Ryan says the pamphlets, giving a guide to nuclear, biological and other mass destruction weapons, have been distributed to science and engineering staff at Auckland and Lincoln universities.

University of Waikato co-director of international relations and security studies, Ron Smith, says the SIS is simply asking staff to be alert, which seems reasonable.

The SIS says it is trying to raise awareness and says there have been attempts to acquire New Zealand technology.