The Blog

More Distortion on Iraq & Niger

11:47 AM, Oct 27, 2005 • By DANIEL MCKIVERGAN
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Here is another example of bogus information on the issue of Iraqi attempts to purchase uranium from Niger that is circulating on liberal web sites that may make its way into some sloppily researched editorial. The web posting claims the following:

It's [the British government's July 2004 review of intelligence on wmd] review of prewar intelligence included the claim was unfounded. Here's the relevant bit (pg. 124):

'Based on through [sic] analysis, the IAEA has concluded, with the concurrence of outside experts, that these documents, which formed the basis for the reports of recent uranium transactions between Iraq and Niger, are in fact not authentic. We have therefore concluded that these specific allegations are unfounded.'

But as most who read page 124 of the British report will immediately grasp, the "relevant bit" quoted above is the conclusion of the IAEA, NOT the British government. In fact, the British report flatly states that the president's uranium reference in his 2003 State of the Union address was "well-founded" and based on intelligence having nothing to do with the forged documents cited by the IAEA. Here are the "relevant" bits, on pages 123 and 125:

We conclude that, on the basis of the intelligence assessments at the time, covering both Niger and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the statements on Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Africa in the Government's dossier, and by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons, were well-founded. By extension, we conclude also that the statement in President Bush's State of the Union Address of 28 January 2003 that:

'The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa'

was well-founded.

And,

From our examination of the intelligence and other material on Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Africa, we have concluded that:

a. It is accepted by all parties that Iraqi officials visited Niger in 1999.

b. The British Government had intelligence from several different sources indicating that this visit was for the purpose of acquiring uranium. Since uranium constitutes almost three-quarters of Niger's exports, the intelligence was credible.

c. The evidence was not conclusive that Iraq actually purchased, as opposed to having sought, uranium and the British Government did not claim this.

d. The forged documents were not available to the British Government at the time its assessment was made, and so the fact of the forgery does not undermine it.