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The espionage, or spying, threat did not end with the collapse of Soviet communism in the early 1990s. Espionage against UK interests continues from many quarters.
In the past, espionage activity was typically directed towards obtaining political and military intelligence. In today's high-tech world, the intelligence requirements of a number of countries now include new communications technologies, IT, genetics, aviation, lasers, optics, electronics and many other fields. Intelligence services, therefore, are targeting commercial enterprises far more than in the past.
The UK is a high priority espionage target and a number of countries are actively seeking UK information and material to advance their own military, technological, political and economic programmes. (See also "Methods of attack and targets").
We estimate that at least 20 foreign intelligence services are operating to some degree against UK interests. Of greatest concern are the Russians and Chinese. The number of Russian intelligence officers in London has not fallen since Soviet times.
The threat against UK interests is not confined to the UK itself. A foreign intelligence service operates best in its own country and some may therefore find it easier to target UK interests at home, where they can control the environment and where we may let our guard drop. See "Dealing with the espionage threat whilst overseas" for further information.
The Home Secretary, John Reid, updates the House of Commons with a statement on the search for radioactivity.
He says traces had been discovered in 12 locations, as well as the two British Airways planes.
Mr Reid tells MPs that two Russian aircraft, one of which is currently at Heathrow airport, are also of interest.