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« Ahmadinejad: Iran Has Joined Nuclear Club | Main | Study: Ugly People Make Bad Parents, Too »
April 11, 2006

In Case You Need More Convincing: Iraq Did Seek Uranium In Niger

In fact, it had previously bought it from that same country. Great stuff from Hitch:

In the late 1980s, the Iraqi representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency—Iraq's senior public envoy for nuclear matters, in effect—was a man named Wissam al-Zahawie. After the Kuwait war in 1991, when Rolf Ekeus arrived in Baghdad to begin the inspection and disarmament work of UNSCOM, he was greeted by Zahawie, who told him in a bitter manner that "now that you have come to take away our assets," the two men could no longer be friends. (They had known each other in earlier incarnations at the United Nations in New York.)

At a later 1995 U.N. special session on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Zahawie was the Iraqi delegate and spoke heatedly about the urgent need to counterbalance Israel's nuclear capacity. ...

In February 1999, Zahawie left his [ambassadorial posting at the Vatican] for a few days and paid an official visit to Niger, a country known for absolutely nothing except its vast deposits of uranium ore. It was from Niger that Iraq had originally acquired uranium in 1981, as confirmed in the Duelfer Report. In order to take the Joseph Wilson view of this Baathist ambassadorial initiative, you have to be able to believe that Saddam Hussein's long-term main man on nuclear issues was in Niger to talk about something other than the obvious. Italian intelligence (which first noticed the Zahawie trip from Rome) found it difficult to take this view and alerted French intelligence (which has better contacts in West Africa and a stronger interest in nuclear questions). In due time, the French tipped off the British, who in their cousinly way conveyed the suggestive information to Washington. As everyone now knows, the disclosure appeared in watered-down and secondhand form in the president's State of the Union address in January 2003.

If the above was all that was known, it would surely be universally agreed that no responsible American administration could have overlooked such an amazingly sinister pattern. Given the past Iraqi record of surreptitious dealing, cheating of inspectors, concealment of sites and caches, and declared ambition to equip the technicians referred to openly in the Baathist press as "nuclear mujahideen," one could scarcely operate on the presumption of innocence.

Maybe Saddam just wanted to buy some of those prized Nigerian racing-goats all the world is always talking about.

He then notes the infamously crude forgery surfaced claiming that Iraq had purchased uranium after that 1999 visit. The forgery was immediately recognized as such, and based upon that, Mohammad ElBaradei, the See No Evil head of the UN's atomic bomb watchdog group, proclaimed that the Iraq-Niger uranium connection was in fact discredited.

But Hitchens notes the fact that there was false proof for something hardly disproves it, especially when there is so much indisputable proof. If a forged notarized statement emerges proclaiming the sky to be blue, the fact of the forgery hardly transforms our skies to some sort of Mongo-esque electric-pink-and-yellow. He goes on:

A NATO investigation has identified two named employees of the Niger Embassy in Rome who, having sold a genuine document about Zahawie to Italian and French intelligence agents, then added a forged paper in the hope of turning a further profit. The real stuff went by one route to Washington, and the fakery, via an Italian journalist and the U.S. Embassy in Rome, by another. The upshot was—follow me closely here—that a phony paper alleging a deal was used to shoot down a genuine document suggesting a connection.

Unbelievable. Read the whole thing. Time Magazine is eager to play country-lawyer for Zahawie, uncritically reporting his claims of no Iran-Niger uranium talks without revealing he was Saddam's little uranium buyer.

Thanks to Brad again, who's still asking "Doesn't anyone ever f'n' knock anymore?"


digg this
posted by Ace at 01:40 PM

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