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Wednesday, 5 April, 2000, 16:31 GMT 17:31 UK
Analysis: Spymasters change focus
Satellite photo
Spying has moved increasingly into space
By Defence correspondent Jonathan Marcus

It is a decade since the end of the Cold War but the spymasters have not been forced to look for new employment.

Russia and the West may be hesitantly charting a new, more constructive relationship, but both sides still need to build a complete intelligence picture of what the other is doing.

In fact the ending of the Cold War has brought only a very brief peace dividend to the world of espionage.

Economic intelligence - the demand for information about what is being developed in private companies and research establishments, both military and non-military - has boomed, often with apparent friends spying on each other.

In recent weeks there has been growing concern in a number of European countries at the US-led Echelon programme - a comprehensive system of intercepting electronic and telephone messages that many Europeans fear is being used by the US to gain commercial advantage.

Regions

But the end of the Cold war has given a renewed lease of life to more traditional forms of espionage as well.

The attention may be less on the capabilities of Russian nuclear missile forces and more on once largely-disregarded regions like the Caucasus or the Balkans.

The whole intelligence business is also facing the potential for a new democratisation as well.

Civilian satellites can now provide images of extraordinary clarity of the most sensitive spots on the Earth's surface.

And you can buy them too. All you need is a credit card and a good idea of where you want the satellite to look.

See also:

15 Mar 00 | South Asia
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