Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Evidence of Niger uranium trade 'years before war'
FT ^ | 06/27/04 | Mark Huband

Posted on 06/27/2004 3:51:32 PM PDT by Pikamax

Evidence of Niger uranium trade 'years before war' By Mark Huband Published: June 27 2004 21:56 | Last Updated: June 27 2004 21:56

When thieves stole a steel watch and two bottles of perfume from Niger's embassy on Via Antonio Baiamonti in Rome at the end of December 2000, they left behind many questions about their intentions.

The identity of the thieves has not been established. But one theory is that they planned to steal headed notepaper and official stamps that would allow the forging of documents for the illicit sale of uranium from Niger's vast mines.

The break-in is one of the murkier elements surrounding the claim - made by the US and UK governments in the lead-up to the Iraq war - that Iraq sought to buy uranium illicitly from Niger.

The British government has said repeatedly it stands by intelligence it gathered and used in its controversial September 2002 dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programmes. It still claims that Iraq had sought uranium from Niger.

But the US intelligence community, officials and politicians, are publicly sceptical, and the public differences between the two allies on the issue have obscured the evidence that lies behind the UK claim.

Until now, the only evidence of Iraq's alleged attempts to buy uranium from Niger had turned out to be a forgery. In October 2002, documents were handed to the US embassy in Rome that appeared to be correspondence between Niger and Iraqi officials.

When the US State Department later passed the documents to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog, they were found to be fake. US officials have subsequently distanced themselves from the entire notion that Iraq was seeking buy uranium from Niger.

However, European intelligence officers have now revealed that three years before the fake documents became public, human and electronic intelligence sources from a number of countries picked up repeated discussion of an illicit trade in uranium from Niger. One of the customers discussed by the traders was Iraq.

These intelligence officials now say the forged documents appear to have been part of a "scam", and the actual intelligence showing discussion of uranium supply has been ignored.

The fake documents were handed to an Italian journalist working for the Italian magazine Panorama by a businessman in October 2002. According to a senior official with detailed knowledge of the case, this businessman had been dismissed from the Italian armed forces for dishonourable conduct 25 years earlier.

The journalist - Elisabetta Burba - reported in a Panorama article that she suspected the documents were forgeries and handed them to officials at the US embassy in Rome.

The businessman, referred to by a pseudonym in the Panorama article, had previously tried to sell the documents to several intelligence services, according to a western intelligence officer.

It was later established that he had a record of extortion and deception and had been convicted by a Rome court in 1985 and later arrested at least twice. The suspected forger's real name is known to the FT, but cannot be used because of legal constraints. He did not return telephone calls yesterday, and is understood to be planning to reveal selected aspects of his story to a US television channel.

The FT has now learnt that three European intelligence services were aware of possible illicit trade in uranium from Niger between 1999 and 2001. Human intelligence gathered in Italy and Africa more than three years before the Iraq war had shown Niger officials referring to possible illicit uranium deals with at least five countries, including Iraq.

This intelligence provided clues about plans by Libya and Iran to develop their undeclared nuclear programmes. Niger officials were also discussing sales to North Korea and China of uranium ore or the "yellow cake" refined from it: the raw materials that can be progressively enriched to make nuclear bombs.

The raw intelligence on the negotiations included indications that Libya was investing in Niger's uranium industry to prop it up at a time when demand had fallen, and that sales to Iraq were just a part of the clandestine export plan. These secret exports would allow countries with undeclared nuclear programmes to build up uranium stockpiles.

One nuclear counter-proliferation expert told the FT: "If I am going to make a bomb, I am not going to use the uranium that I have declared. I am going to use what I acquire clandestinely, if I am going to keep the programme hidden."

This may have been the method being used by Libya before it agreed last December to abandon its secret nuclear programme. According to the IAEA, there are 2,600 tonnes of refined uranium ore - "yellow cake" - in Libya. However, less than 1,500 tonnes of it is accounted for in Niger records, even though Niger was Libya's main supplier.

Information gathered in 1999-2001 suggested that the uranium sold illicitly would be extracted from mines in Niger that had been abandoned as uneconomic by the two French-owned mining companies - Cominak and Somair, both of which are owned by the mining giant Cogema - operating in Niger.

"Mines can be abandoned by Cogema when they become unproductive. This doesn't mean that people near the mines can't keep on extracting," a senior European counter-proliferation official said.

He added that there was no evidence the companies were aware of the plans for illicit mining.

When the intelligence gathered in 1999-2001 was thrown into the diplomatic maelstrom that preceded the US-led invasion of Iraq, it took on new significance. Several services contributed to the picture.

The Italians, looking for corroboration but lacking the global reach of the CIA or the UK intelligence service MI6, passed information to the US in 2001 and to the UK in 2002.

The UK eavesdropping centre GCHQ had intercepted communications suggesting Iraq was seeking clandestine uranium supplies, as had the French intelligence service.

The Italian intelligence was not incorporated in detail into the assessments of the CIA, which seeks to use such information only when it is gathered from its own sources rather than as a result of liaison with foreign intelligence services. But five months after receiving it, the US sent former ambassador Joseph Wilson to Niger to assess the credibility of separate US intelligence information that suggested Iraq had approached Niger.

Mr Wilson was critical of the Bush administration's use of secret intelligence, and has since charged that the White House sought to intimidate him by leaking the identity of his wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA agent.

But Mr Wilson also stated in his account of the visit that Mohamed Sayeed al-Sahaf, Iraq's former information minister, was identified to him by a Niger official as having sought to discuss trade with Niger.

As Niger's other main export is goats, some intelligence officials have surmised uranium was what Mr Sahaf was referring to.


TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: 16words; cia; cialeak; documents; embassy; forgery; iraq; italy; joeisapimp; josephwilson; letterhead; niger; nigerflap; nuclear; nuclearblackmarket; plame; plamegate; prewarintelligence; proliferation; robberies; robbery; theft; uranium; valerieisawhore; valerieplame; valeriewilson; wilson; yellowcake

1 posted on 06/27/2004 3:51:32 PM PDT by Pikamax
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

I have always suspected that the whole British intelligence document was a setup... it wouldn't surprise me if Wilson himself took part in it... The rest of this article, while disturbing, is rather good news... I sure hope we hear more about this...


2 posted on 06/27/2004 4:09:23 PM PDT by oolatec
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Pikamax
Bump for reference.

Well, Wilson is a puke. And, Baghdad Bob was the potential buyer.

3 posted on 06/27/2004 4:55:21 PM PDT by mattdono (To President Reagan: Rest now. Look in on us. Enjoy eternity. I'll see you again some day.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: oolatec

exactly, it was a poison pill designed to discredit the entire story - the story itself was and is true, but this falsified evidence plant serves to discredit the entire story.


4 posted on 06/27/2004 4:58:22 PM PDT by oceanview
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: oceanview; Mitchell

Ping.


5 posted on 06/27/2004 5:18:03 PM PDT by Shermy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: marron

"As Niger's other main export is goats, some intelligence officials have surmised uranium was what Mr Sahaf was referring to


6 posted on 06/27/2004 5:19:31 PM PDT by Shermy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Pikamax
This is older, recycled, misleading news.

Mot folks who have encountered the Niger documents assume they were deemed "forgeries" because everything was handwritten, even the LOGO.

Some reporters even said that the "forgeries" were "crude" because no one would ever believe the documents to be authentic which contained hand drawn letterheads!

Actually, the documents in question are not the originals ~ rather they are holographic copies ~ which is to say someone with access to the originals sat down and copied them by hand, including the logo.

The "forgery" part of the story would entail WHAT was written, not HOW it was transcribed. After all these folks, as with most folks in this world, live without photocopy machines at the ready.

Now, how do we educate our modern reporters to the realities of life in the rest of the world ~ how about this one ~ we strip them down buck naked except for a dhotti and drop them into a Lagos slum. They are to come back fully clothed, well fed, with new shoes and a great story about street crime.

Does that seem like a fair test for these guys? Bet they'd get over that nonsense about imagining Africa as being a modern electronic wonderland.

7 posted on 06/27/2004 5:45:04 PM PDT by muawiyah
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: oolatec
I have always suspected that the whole British intelligence document was a setup...

Indeed, as some of us have suspected, the forged documents were created to cast a question over the earlier intelligence that is most likely true.

Note the forgeries appear on the scene in October 2002. That is months after Joe Wilson's February 2002 trip.

Also the infamous British Dossier was written up in September 2002. Again, before the forgeries were introduced to taint the story.

Remember that almost exactly at the same time the Wilson story started being disseminated in the press anonymously in June 2003, the British ball started rolling on a very similar story: The "Sexed-Up" Document story that turned out to be false.

I have often stated I think these were twin planned attacks on both Bush and Blair--both with a similar accusation: "Bush Lied" and "Blair Lied". And yes, I think Wilson was involved with that plot to bring down these two men.

8 posted on 06/27/2004 6:07:44 PM PDT by cyncooper (Have I mentioned lately that I DESPISE the media?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: muawiyah
I hadn't heard that before. Where did you come across the info that the letterheads had been hand-copied? I'd like to include that in my records.

I found this amusing:

When thieves stole a steel watch and two bottles of perfume from Niger's embassy on Via Antonio Baiamonti in Rome at the end of December 2000, they left behind many questions about their intentions. The identity of the thieves has not been established.

One question that comes to mind, which should have been explained by the journalist, is how he came to the conclusion that there was more than one thief? And from whom did this info on the theft originate?

The rest of the article seems to hang on this mere guess, a theory which is simply not justified given the available info :

But one theory is that they planned to steal headed notepaper and official stamps that would allow the forging of documents for the illicit sale of uranium from Niger's vast mines.

Well, isn't that special? Here's my theory, using the KISS method:

There is a report that two bottles of perfume were stolen, along with a watch, but no evidence has been mentioned of anything else tampered with or removed from the premises. In the absence of such evidence, there isn't much reason to be baffled about the thief's intention... the most obvious explanation is just that he or she intended to steal some perfume and a watch.

The alleged robbery - and so the alleged forgery if the claim is that it is derived from paper obtained in it- occured AFTER the Iraqi met with the Nigerien official mentioned by Wilson, and also AFTER the even earlier confirmed and well-known visit to Niger of the Iraqi trade mission which invited the president of Niger to visit Baghdad.

9 posted on 06/27/2004 6:23:20 PM PDT by piasa (Attitude adjustments offered here free of charge.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: piasa
Way back when ~ the earliest stories about the sales documents being "forgeries" contained the business about them having been handwritten/handdrawn!

The folks making the claim about "forgery" were not commenting on the nature of the copies, which were always described as "copies". The originals were left behind in the hands of the targets of the espionage that resulted in the holographic "copies" falling into the hands of various intelligence services.

My comment refers to the initial story that starts this thread ~ it's not the documents themselves that are forgeries, but the contents of the "copies" ~ because the intelligence agencies do not have the originals!

10 posted on 06/27/2004 6:35:48 PM PDT by muawiyah
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: cyncooper
Another interesting tidbit is that the documents are alleged to have arrived in the hands of the Italian journalist in precisely the same month- October- that the US NIE was completed and released- and the same time as the UK media reports defector's claims that an Iraqi agent named Nadhim Jabouri had been sent to arrange for the acquisition of specialized aluminum tubes for its enrichment process from South Africa. The info comes from an INC source who, if I'm not mistaken, was apparently correct about Iraq's effort to obtain magnets from Germany.

My note: Also in October there were rumblings about a North Korean attempt to procure uranium from Congo.

11 posted on 06/27/2004 6:38:35 PM PDT by piasa (Attitude adjustments offered here free of charge.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: muawiyah
OK, thanks... I did a little digging around and I think this may be one of the sources, since it refers to the logo being badly drawn. BUt later it says the logo was stamped, which would make me think it was a poorly made stamp rather than a hand drawing. Note also that so far there is no proof the docs the reporter had are the same docs the IAEA received. (A side note : this article also says the docs were given to the CIA instead of to the State Dept as the thread's lead article says.):

The Guardian via TheAge.com.au, of http://www.theage.com.au/cgi-bin/common/popupPrintArticle.pl?path=/articles/2003/07/17/1058035132835.html

-- "Iraq uranium forgeries crudely done, newspaper reveals," By Sophie Arie, Rome, July 18 2003

Forged documents on which the US, Britain and Australia allegedly based their case that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger were so crudely drafted that it is unlikely they would have survived more than a few hours' - or minutes' - scrutiny by any specialist, it has emerged.

The letters and paperwork, which surfaced in Italy's left-of-centre daily La Repubblica on Wednesday, reveal how amateurish the forgeries were.

Although they run to only eight pages, they contain more than a dozen easily checkable errors. A logo, supposedly the national symbol of Niger, is badly drawn and missing much of the detail normally used in government documents.

US President George Bush used the forged documents to build the case for war with Iraq. The US has since accepted they were bogus and blamed British intelligence for supplying the information.

At prime minister's questions in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Mr Blair insisted the British claim was based not on the forged documents but on independent intelligence.

He said the link between Niger and Iraq was not an invention of the the CIA or Britain.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations body responsible for non-proliferation, reminded Britain on Wednesday that it had a duty to hand over any new intelligence for verification.

The forged documents were passed in February this year by the US to the IAEA, which a month later declared them to be forgeries. The IAEA has not released the documents. But it is understood the documents are the same as those leaked to La Repubblica.

The paper claimed the forged documents were passed to British intelligence in Rome and their contents given to the CIA.

The documents, apparently from senior Niger authorities in Niamey to the country's ambassador in Rome, and a telex, from Niger's embassy in Rome, all relate to alleged negotiations for Iraq to buy 500 tonnes of uranium from Niger. The letters, in French and stamped with the Niger Government seal, are scattered with spelling mistakes and contain several glaring inconsistencies.

One letter is dated July 30, 1999, although it talks of negotiations between Niger and Iraq after that date, on June 29, 2000.

Italy has repeatedly denied formally handing the documents to other countries, but the head of a parliamentary commission on intelligence and security, Enzo Bianco, said on Wednesday he could not deny that Italy may have passed on the documents in an informal way.

- Guardian

This story was found at: http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/07/17/1058035132835.html


12 posted on 06/27/2004 6:52:41 PM PDT by piasa (Attitude adjustments offered here free of charge.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Pikamax
A thread with another related article by Mark Huband:

Intelligence backs claim Iraq tried to buy uranium

13 posted on 06/27/2004 7:04:54 PM PDT by Imal (The amount of corruption a nation has is directly proportional to the amount of government it has.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Peach

Don't want you to miss this.

Also, see link at #13 for link to another thread on article by same reporter.


14 posted on 06/27/2004 7:35:54 PM PDT by cyncooper (Have I mentioned lately that I DESPISE the media?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: cyncooper
I have often stated I think these were twin planned attacks on both Bush and Blair--both with a similar accusation: "Bush Lied" and "Blair Lied". And yes, I think Wilson was involved with that plot to bring down these two men.

And just who would spawn such a plot? I can think of three candidates:

1. The Democrats?

2. The Saudis?

3. al-Qaeda

Joe Wilson is known to work for two of the above. I would not put it past him to work for the third...

15 posted on 06/27/2004 9:39:50 PM PDT by okie01 (The Mainstream Media: Ignorance On Parade)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: okie01

And remember, the BBC figured prominently in "reporting" the "Sexed-up Document" charge against Blair (using David Kelly as a source--Kelly later killed himself when it was discovered he was speaking, unauthorized, with Gilligan).

Before Wilson penned his editorial proclaiming himself to be the until-then anonymous diplomat who had ventured to Niger, stories given to reporters telling Wilson's tale appeared in---the BBC (citing a "CIA official).


16 posted on 06/27/2004 9:48:43 PM PDT by cyncooper (Have I mentioned lately that I DESPISE the media?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: cyncooper

Thanks! Last night we were getting a T storm and so I quickly freepmailed this to myself to deal with it in the morning...saving to file.


17 posted on 06/28/2004 4:19:07 AM PDT by Peach (The Clintons pardoned more terrorists than they ever captured or killed.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: oolatec
"The suspected forger' real name is known to the FT, but cannot be used because of legal constraints. He did not return telephone calls yesterday, and is understood to be planning to reveal selected aspects of his story to a US television channel."
18 posted on 06/28/2004 4:36:38 AM PDT by Matchett-PI (All DemocRATS are either relativists, libertines or anarchists.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Pikamax; oolatec; muawiyah; cyncooper
Speaking of Italy:

JULY 2001 : (ITALY : IRAQI INTELLIGENCE AGENT AL-MAMOURI DISAPPEARS FROM HIS JOB, SHORTLY AFTER HE MET 9/11 HIJACKER MOHAMMAD ATTA; BOTH HAD BEEN SEEN TOGETHER IN HAMBURG GERMANY & PRAGUE, CZECHOSLAVAKIA BEFORE) One of Saddam’s intelligence agents, Habib Faris Abdullah al-Mamouri, was sent to be the new headmaster of a school for Iraqi diplomats in Italy. The bogus headmaster has not been seen in Rome since July, shortly after he also met Atta. The pair are also said to have been together in Hamburg and Prague. There is no proof the men were in direct contact, but as one intelligence source in Madrid said [later in the year] : “They chose a strange time and place to take a holiday.” The Rome daily Il Messaggero, quoting Western intelligence sources, said of Mr al-Mamouri that “he spent more time pursuing contacts helpful to the Iraqi regime among fundamentalist Islamic groups than he had on his supposed teaching duties”. Italian officials say that Mr al-Mamouri held the rank of general in the Iraqi secret service, and from 1982 to 1990 worked in the Special Operations Branch forging Baghdad’s links with Islamic fundamentalist groups in Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Gulf and Sudan. He was transferred to his “teaching duties” in 1998, although all the Iraqi Embassy will say of his sudden departure is that “he had money problems”. - "Hijacker 'given anthrax flask by Iraqi agent'," by DANIEL MCGRORY, The London Times, SATURDAY OCTOBER 27 2001

19 posted on 06/28/2004 6:41:23 PM PDT by piasa (Attitude adjustments offered here free of charge.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Pikamax; Fedora; Howlin; ravingnutter; piasa; Peach; Grampa Dave; pinz-n-needlez; canadianally; ...
Searching around on the web for anything new or overlooked, I came upon this important article (2 years old) and found it had already been posted on FR 3X...... everyone gets caught up in timelines and debates about the forged documents, but there is A LOT of juicy info about uranium smuggling from Niger, Libyan uranium supplies which cannot be fully accounted for by official records, Libya investing in Niger uranium, etc.

When will we finally learn the real facts about Niger, uranium, Libya, and Iraq???? If any one of the following is indeed true, it would prove beyond a shadow of doubt (what is obvious to those willing to think) that Joe Wilson's absurd 'mission' was a set-up, designed to come up with only one (wrong) answer. If even one of these 4 points is true then Wilson is discredited completely: (1) Libya did obtain undeclared (illegal) uranium supplies from Niger (or elsewhere); (2) Niger officials and/or smugglers DID hold talks about smuggling uranium outside of IAEA oversight; (3) Iraq did at least ask about starting surreptitious shipments of uranium from Niger; (4) Niger's uranium mines were NOT so completely secured from smuggling and off-the-books transactions (giving the lie to a good part of Joe Wilson's expressed confidence that there could not be such smuggling). If ANY of the 4 points above are true (and the article below asserts that ALL of them are true) then Joe Wilson is revealed decisively as the fraud artist that he is.

So why are both the US gov't and the MSM so completely incapable of resolving these issues for the public???

------------------------------------------------------

The FT has now learnt that three European intelligence services were aware of possible illicit trade in uranium from Niger between 1999 and 2001. Human intelligence gathered in Italy and Africa more than three years before the Iraq war had shown Niger officials referring to possible illicit uranium deals with at least five countries, including Iraq. This intelligence provided clues about plans by Libya and Iran to develop their undeclared nuclear programmes. Niger officials were also discussing sales to North Korea and China of uranium ore or the "yellow cake" refined from it: the raw materials that can be progressively enriched to make nuclear bombs. The raw intelligence on the negotiations included indications that Libya was investing in Niger's uranium industry to prop it up at a time when demand had fallen, and that sales to Iraq were just a part of the clandestine export plan. These secret exports would allow countries with undeclared nuclear programmes to build up uranium stockpiles. One nuclear counter-proliferation expert told the FT: "If I am going to make a bomb, I am not going to use the uranium that I have declared. I am going to use what I acquire clandestinely, if I am going to keep the programme hidden." This may have been the method being used by Libya before it agreed last December to abandon its secret nuclear programme. According to the IAEA, there are 2,600 tonnes of refined uranium ore - "yellow cake" - in Libya. However, less than 1,500 tonnes of it is accounted for in Niger records, even though Niger was Libya's main supplier. Information gathered in 1999-2001 suggested that the uranium sold illicitly would be extracted from mines in Niger that had been abandoned as uneconomic by the two French-owned mining companies - Cominak and Somair, both of which are owned by the mining giant Cogema - operating in Niger. "Mines can be abandoned by Cogema when they become unproductive. This doesn't mean that people near the mines can't keep on extracting," a senior European counter-proliferation official said.
20 posted on 05/09/2006 9:06:00 PM PDT by Enchante (General Hayden: I've Never Taken a Domestic Flight That Landed in Waziristan!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Enchante

And don't miss this companion piece by the same author:


http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1161341/posts


21 posted on 05/09/2006 9:12:14 PM PDT by Enchante (General Hayden: I've Never Taken a Domestic Flight That Landed in Waziristan!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: Enchante; backhoe

BUMP


22 posted on 05/09/2006 9:14:27 PM PDT by Lancey Howard
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: Enchante

Now here's something weird - BOTH of the articles by Huband have been pulled from the FT website - or at least the links are dead. I hadn't looked for them before, because I read them from cached pages I found on Google, but they seem to be gone from FT. Does that mean they don't stand by those stories and backed away from them, or did someone get to them, or were they in danger with the UK's "Official Secrets Act" and backed away from their own reporting, or what??? Anyone know?


23 posted on 05/09/2006 9:15:06 PM PDT by Enchante (General Hayden: I've Never Taken a Domestic Flight That Landed in Waziristan!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: Enchante

Sorry for the series of posts, but I'm going to park the text of both articles here (as I found it in Google cached pages) since something weird is going on with these articles and the FT website.

http://72.14.207.104/search?q=cache:5weGdXtMFSMJ:cshink.com/iraq_had_talks_on_uranium.htm+libya+niger+uranium&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=2




Intelligence backs claims Iraq had talks on uranium

June 28, 2004
Financial Times
Mark Huband, Security Correspondent

Illicit sales of uranium from Niger were being negotiated with five states including Iraq at least three years before the US-led invasion, according to senior European intelligence officials.

Intelligence officers learned between 1999 and 2001 that uranium smugglers planned to sell illicitly mined Nigerien uranium ore, or refined ore called yellow cake, to Iran, Libya, China, North Korea and Iraq.

These claims support the assertion in the British government dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programme in September 2002 that Iraq had tried to buy uranium from an African country, confirmed later as Niger. George W. Bush, US president, referred to the issue in his State of the Union address in January 2003.

The claim that the illicit export of uranium was under discussion was widely dismissed when letters referring to the sales, apparently sent by a Nigerien official to a senior official in Saddam Hussein's regime, were proved by the International Atomic Energy Agency to be fakes. This embarrassed the US and led the administration to reverse its claim.

But European intelligence officials have confirmed that information provided by human intelligence sources during an operation in Europe and Africa produced sufficient evidence for them to believe that Niger was the centre of a clandestine international trade in uranium.

Officials said the fake documents, which emerged in October 2002 and have been traced to an Italian with a record for extortion and deception, added little to the picture from human intelligence and were only given weight by the Bush administration.

According to a senior counter-proliferation official, meetings between Niger officials and would-be buyers from the five countries were held in several European countries, including Italy. Although the European intelligence material suggests a proactive role by the sellers of the uranium, intelligence officials say that Iraq actively sought supplies.

Intelligence officers were convinced that the uranium would be smuggled from abandoned mines in Niger, circumventing official export controls. "The sources were trustworthy. There were several sources, and they were reliable sources," an official involved in the European intelligence gathering operation said.

The UK government used the details in its Iraq weapons dossier after concluding that it corresponded with other information it possessed, including evidence gathered by GCHQ, the eavesdropping centre, of a visit to Niger by an Iraqi official.

In spite of evidence that the illicit market supplied at least two of the five countries, it is unclear whether talks with Iraq led to exports being made.

© Copyright The Financial Times Ltd




Evidence of Niger uranium trade 'years before war'

June 28, 2004
Financial Times
Mark Huband

When thieves stole a steel watch and two bottles of perfume from Niger's embassy on Via Antonio Baiamonti in Rome at the end of December 2000, they left behind many questions about their intentions.

The identity of the thieves has not been established. But one theory is that they planned to steal headed note paper and official stamps that would allow the forging of documents for the illicit sale of uranium from Niger's vast mines.

The break-in is one of the murkier elements surrounding the claim - made by the US and UK governments in the lead-up to the Iraq war - that Iraq sought to buy uranium illicitly from Niger.

The British government has said repeatedly it stands by intelligence it gathered and used in it


24 posted on 05/09/2006 9:17:50 PM PDT by Enchante (General Hayden: I've Never Taken a Domestic Flight That Landed in Waziristan!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: Enchante

bttt


25 posted on 05/09/2006 9:23:23 PM PDT by shield (A wise man's heart is at his RIGHT hand; but a fool's heart at his LEFT. Ecc. 10:2)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: Pikamax

Too bad people don't even want to know the truth isn't it?


26 posted on 05/09/2006 9:26:02 PM PDT by ladyinred
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Enchante
So why are both the US gov't and the MSM so completely incapable of resolving these issues for the public???

As far as the US government, my guess is we're honoring our nondisclosure agreement with the foreign intelligence agencies that generated the information.

27 posted on 05/09/2006 9:56:46 PM PDT by Fedora
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: Fedora

Sure, but can't someone have the sense to go back to such sources and re-negotiate, say that it's really really important to clear this up in the public because not only has US credibility been grossly and falsely impugned but it puts a dark shadow over the credibility of all western intel agencies? It is particularly important to explain the real facts in light of ongoing dangers with Iran, North Korea, etc. and the need for the publics of various nations to know that intel agencies do have some competence. OK, I suppose if it's the French who have been promised confidentiality, well they could not care less.....


28 posted on 05/09/2006 10:03:09 PM PDT by Enchante (General Hayden: I've Never Taken a Domestic Flight That Landed in Waziristan!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: Enchante
OK, I suppose if it's the French who have been promised confidentiality, well they could not care less.....

That's mainly what I was getting at. . .

Even if we twisted the French's arm on it, there'd still be concerns about not exposing, say, MI6 assets by declassifying something. There was stuff from World War II that wasn't declassified for 50 years because of this type of problem.

I think there was an attempt to get around the problem around July 2003 by leaking Martino's French connection to certain reporters in the UK. That had some effect, but unfortunately the whole story about that can't be told/verified without the French confirming Martino's work for them and declassifying their files on it, which naturally they're not going to do. I think we'd have to get a source inside French intelligence to cooperate to really get the whole story leaked out. Maybe someone in the Italian press can do it--the Italians have been doing the best job of covering this IMO.

29 posted on 05/09/2006 10:29:23 PM PDT by Fedora
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 28 | View Replies]

To: Enchante
If any one of the following is indeed true, it would prove beyond a shadow of doubt (what is obvious to those willing to think) that Joe Wilson's absurd 'mission' was a set-up, designed to come up with only one (wrong) answer.

Disagree. Wilson did not come up with any conclusive answer. In fact, according to the Senate Intelligence Report, Wilson brought back denials of any Niger-Iraq uranium sale, and argued that such a sale wasn't likely to happen. But the Intelligence Committee report also reveals that Wilson brought back something else as well -- evidence that Iraq may well have wanted to buy uranium. Wilson reported that he had met with Niger's former Prime Minister Ibrahim Mayaki, who said that in June 1999 he was asked to meet with a delegation from Iraq to discuss "expanding commercial relations" between the two countries.

Based on what Wilson told them, CIA analysts wrote an intelligence report saying former Prime Minister Mayki "interpreted 'expanding commercial relations' to mean that the (Iraqi) delegation wanted to discuss uranium yellowcake sales." In fact, the Intelligence Committee report said that "for most analysts" Wilson's trip to Niger "lent more credibility to the original Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports on the uranium deal."

Senate Intelligence Report

I still say that Wilson's second trip to Niger at CIA expense was the same as the first one, i.e., a contrived boondoggle by Wilson and his wife to have the USG pay for his trip to conduct personal business. It was only after the fact that Wilson saw an opportunity to use the trip to further his own ambitions, which included helping Kerry defeat Bush. There is also no doubt that the CIA felt that they were being used as the scapegoat for 9/11 and the subsequent invasion of Iraq based on the "slam dunk" conclusion that Iraq had WMD. The Wilson trip could thus be used by the mid-level CIA types against Bush.

30 posted on 05/09/2006 10:32:03 PM PDT by kabar
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: kabar
"Disagree. Wilson did not come up with any conclusive answer."

Oh, I certainly agree with you there - if anything his oral report lent some modest support to the concern that Iraq WAS interested in uranium from Niger..... BUT I was referring above to how he has portrayed his bogus 'report' in his July 6, 2003 NY Times op-ed and in many media appearances - he has left the public and the MSM with the overriding impression that he thoroughly debunked the possibilty that Iraq was seeking uranium at all.
31 posted on 05/09/2006 10:43:38 PM PDT by Enchante (General Hayden: I've Never Taken a Domestic Flight That Landed in Waziristan!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: Enchante
Yes, Wilson was lying and everyone knows it. The WP distanced itself from Wilson in an editorial after the Senate report came out. The MSM knows the truth. Like so many other issues, the debunking appears once and is forgotten while the original and inaccurate charge lives on.

Bush's "16 Words" on Iraq & Uranium: He May Have Been Wrong But He Wasn't Lying Two intelligence investigations show Bush had plenty of reason to believe what he said in his 2003 State of the Union Address.

32 posted on 05/09/2006 10:53:51 PM PDT by kabar
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: Enchante

"Now here's something weird - BOTH of the articles by Huband have been pulled from the FT website - or at least the links are dead. I hadn't looked for them before, because I read them from cached pages I found on Google, but they seem to be gone from FT. Does that mean they don't stand by those stories and backed away from them, or did someone get to them, or were they in danger with the UK's "Official Secrets Act" and backed away from their own reporting, or what??? Anyone know?"

Thanks for posting those articles on Free Republic. What may be happening is Grampa Dave's reality warning, when we find some that can be used by our side on another web site, if legally possible, we need to post it on Free Republic. Then we need to store it on our computers and send ourselves emails with the data.


33 posted on 05/10/2006 6:15:58 AM PDT by Grampa Dave (There's a dwindling market for Marxist homosexual lunatic wet dreams posing as journalism)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: Enchante

Most news sites don't keep articles indefinitely. Some move them to online archives that you have to pay a fee to get into, while others simply don't keep up articles online past a certain date.


34 posted on 05/10/2006 2:55:18 PM PDT by piasa (Attitude Adjustments Offered Here Free of Charge)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: piasa

Yeah, I figure that's the explanation - but it does seem odd to me that when editors and reporters preen themselves on writing "the first draft of history" they wouldn't take care to see that their work is easily and reliably available to researchers on the web (sometimes it's a hopelessly bad draft, but these articles seem to be important to the real historical record).


35 posted on 05/10/2006 3:08:23 PM PDT by Enchante (General Hayden: I've Never Taken a Domestic Flight That Landed in Waziristan!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 34 | View Replies]

To: Pikamax
The I.A.E.A. Refused to Let U.S. Forces Remove 500 Tons of Uranium From Tawaitha, Iraq, May 22, 2004
San Diego Union Tribune

36 posted on 05/10/2006 3:13:51 PM PDT by DocRock
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: DocRock; Pikamax
JUNE 2004 : (IRAQ : US DEPT OF ENERGY REMOVES 1.8 TONS OF LOW ENRICHED URANIUM FROM AL TUWAITHA, WHERE IRAQ HAD BEEN CONDUCTING NUCLEAR RESEARCH) Saddam Hussein had an active nuclear weapons development program at the time of the U.S. invasion in March 2003, chief U.S. weapons inspector Charles Duelfer has told Congress.
... Duelfer testified that Iraq was "preserving and expanding its knowledge to design and develop nuclear weapons." One Iraqi laboratory "was intentionally focused on research applicable for nuclear weapons development," the top weapons inspector said. ...
Most of the recent nuclear research took place at Iraq's notorious al Tuwaitha weapons facility, where Saddam had stockpiled over 500 tons of yellow cake uranium ore since before the first Gulf War.
Iraq was also in talks with North Korea on the possibility of importing a 1,300 km missile system, the ISG chief revealed. Foreign missile experts were working in Iraq in defiance of U.N. sanctions, and had helped Iraq redesign the al-Samoud missile.
Saddam's 500-plus-ton uranium stockpile was being monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the same agency that had responsibility for monitoring North Korea's nuclear program throughout the 1990s. In October 2002 Pyongyang stunned IAEA inspectors with the announcement that it was ready to produce nuclear weapons.
In June of this year [2004], the U.S. Energy Department removed 1.8 tons of low-enriched uranium from al Tuwaitha.
Ivan Oelrich, a physicist at the Federation of American Scientists, told the Associated Press at the time that the low-enriched uranium stockpile could have produced enough highly enriched uranium to make a single nuclear bomb.
--- "Iraq Survey Chief Duelfer: Saddam Was Developing Nukes," Newsmax, Thursday, Aug. 5, 2004 11:37 a.m. EDT, http://www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2004/8/5/114239.shtml
37 posted on 05/11/2006 10:08:01 PM PDT by piasa (Attitude Adjustments Offered Here Free of Charge)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 36 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson