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Iran, Missiles and the SIS 4 December 2003 Edition
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Everyone has been asking me "what about the SIS?"

Well, as a result of the information published on the Net about my X-Jet project, I've had quite a few contacts from interested parties in foreign countries.

While many of these have been from the USA and Western Europe, some have been from countries which are, shall we say, a not aligned with our own political or religious beliefs.

One such contact was from an Iranian aerospace/missile company that made very serious inquiries about investing in the development of the X-Jet technology.

On receiving this email I thought to myself "Hmmm… Iran. It's not Iraq but it's probably not a country I'd be allowed to export military technology to is it?"

So I rang the Trade & Industry (T&I) department (now called Trade & Enterprise) to ask. The person I spoke to didn't have an immediate answer but said they'd check up for me.

When they returned my call I was told that there would be "no problem" in me accepting investment dollars from Iran and sharing the results of my R&D, even though it did have military application

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At that stage I could have simply proceeded to strike a deal and probably pocket a nice sum of money for myself, while enjoying the many benefits that would flow from having a well-funded partner in the venture.

However, I still felt uneasy about the fact that this was Iran we were talking about - surely, given the current War against Terror and the connections that had been made by some between Iran and terrorist groups, this would not be the right thing to do.

So, figuring that they might be interested in this communication and the adviceI had received from T&I, I contacted the SIS who promptly arrived on my doorstep without even asking for a map or directions. Funny that - everyone else who visited always needed directions the first time. These guys are good!

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For obvious reasons, I'm not going to provide too much detail about my conversations with the SIS but suffice to say they were very interested in this company and their proposals. They also advised that, even though T&I may have thought it was okay to export such technology, it was most certainly not a sensible thing to do.

So there we go - I could have quite legitimately gone ahead and worked to struck a deal with the Iranians, and - since the X-Jet information could easily have been transferred over the Net without ringing any alarm bells, nobody would have been any the wiser. By not worring about the "bigger picture", I could have paid the money the IRD was hounding me for in full and everyone would have been happy.

So, did I do the right thing?

If my current situation is anything to go by, clearly I did not. The government obviously believes that such selfless attitudes count for nothing. Although every citizen is expected to do "the honourable thing", there are no points gained for actually doing so.

But the Iranian approach wasn't the only one I received. I have since had emails from Pakistan, Lebanon, China and other countries, all of which have sought to obtain details of the X-Jet project and some of which have involved seemingly genuine offers of not insignificant payment for such information.

Then, just a few weeks ago, a gentleman who was definitely not of Kiwi origin, arrived on my doorstep in the early evening. He asked many questions about my engines and, in particular, the cruise missile project.

The most interesting thing about his visit was that he'd obviously gone to a lot of trouble to track me down. I've only been here a matter of weeks, I'm not in the phone book, not on the electoral role, and only a handful of others knew my address. I can't see why any normal person would go to such lengths just to find me. Maybe he was just an enthusiast -- I don't know. Maybe was also from the SIS -- but I don't think so.

After at least an hour of discussion, and because I was feeling pretty crook at the time, I invited the guy to come back and see me at another time, arranging to meet him that weekend. He never showed - rather odd considering all the hard work he must have done to find me in the first place and the level of interest he had. Maybe it was because I made it clear that I wasn't interested in the mercenary-type offers I'd already received.

Until it became very apparent that the government wasn't going to lift a finger to help me in my battle with the IRD (and may have even been pleased that they could get me out of their hair), I had been quite happy to provide the SIS with whatever information they might request or that I felt might be useful to them. Indeed, we'd already organised another meeting to discuss new information that has come into my possession.

The SIS have said they'd still very much like to meet with me again. I'm afraid however, that my policy has now changed. As far as I'm concerned, I am no longer prepared to act as an unpaid worker in the service of a government that has screwed me so badly.

The sad fact is, that even if I wished to continue assisting the SIS in this way, the events of the past few months have effectively crippled my ability to do so. Okay, perhaps my contributions were tiny and, in the bigger picture, of little value - I don't know. What I do know however is that I believed I was doing the "right thing" by putting my country's interests ahead of my own. My mistake.

I guess the most significant thing I've learnt from all this is that the government does not run a goodwill ledger. Nothing you, I, or anyone else does to help the country, its people, its economy, or our commitments to intelligence partners, will earn any credit should you ever find yourself in need of the government's help.

That is indeed a very sad state of affairs, and can only be a disincentive to other folks like myself who normally place great store by "doing the right thing" and considering "the greater good" when making choices and decisions which may affect others.

As a footnote to the information I have presented so far, I'd like you to review (perhaps again) the following information, in the context of my case:

Tomorrow I'll tell you where I go from here, what happens now to the X-Jet IP, and I'll ask just a few key questions that really need answers.

The Final Instalment: Left with nothing but questions

If any Aardvark readers want to share an opinion on today's column or add something, you're invited to chip in and have your say in The Aardvark Forums or, if you prefer, you can contact me directly.

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