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The National Security Archive at George Washington University

CONSORTIUM NEWS - Edited by Robert Parry


March 13, 2003

US & Britain Passed Forged Documents to UN as Iraq Nuke 'Proof'

'Some Evidence on Iraq Called Fake' (3/08/03 - Washington Post)

Mohammed ElBaradei, the chief UN inspector looking for evidence of nuclear capability in Iraq, explicitly accused the US and Britain of passing forged documents to the UN as part of their "proof" that Iraq has restarted its nuclear weapons program. The documents were considered "a key piece of evidence," according to the Washington Post.

As reported in the Post on March 8, "Knowledgeable sources familiar with the [UN's] forgery investigation described the faked evidence as a series of letters between Iraqi agents and officials in the central African nation of Niger. The documents had been given to the UN inspectors by Britain and reviewed extensively by US intelligence."

But the "extensive review" by US intelligence failed to spot such obvious blunders as "names and titles that did not match up with the individuals who held office at the time the letters were purportedly written," according the Post, citing the same knowledgeable sources.

In testimony on behalf of the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) before the United Nations Security Council on March 7, ElBaradei stated:

"With regard to uranium acquisition, the IAEA has made progress in its investigation into reports that Iraq sought to buy uranium from Niger in recent years. This investigation was centered on documents provided by a number of states that pointed to an agreement between Niger and Iraq for the sale of uranium between 1999 and 2001.

"The IAEA has discussed these reports with the governments of Iraq and Niger, both of which have denied that any such activity took place. For its part, Iraq has provided the IAEA with a comprehensive explanation of its relations with Niger and has described a visit by an Iraqi official to a number of African countries, including Niger, in February 1999, which Iraq thought might have given rise to the reports.

"The IAEA was able to review correspondence coming from various bodies of the government of Niger, and to compare the form, format, contents and signature of that correspondence with those of the alleged procurement-related documentation. Based on thorough analysis, the IAEA has concluded, with the concurrence of outside experts, that these documents, which formed the basis for the reports of recent uranium transaction between Iraq and Niger, are in fact not authentic. We have therefore concluded that these specific allegations are unfounded."

ElBaradei went on to say that: "After three months of intrusive inspections, we have to date found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq."

Later, a spokesman for the IAEA hedged slightly, saying the forged documents "were shared with us in good faith" by the US and Britain. When CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked Colin Powell who forged the documents, the Secretary of State replied "I have no idea, and if that issue is resolved, that issue is resolved." However, a State Dept. spokesman admitted that they had "recommended sending the documents in question" to the IAEA.

The scandal comes soon after it was revealed that the British plagiarized huge portions of a supposedly top secret intelligence report on Iraq from openly-published academic sources, some of them several years old. There have also been allegations that the US is deliberately withholding information about suspected Iraqi weapons facilities from UN weapons inspectors in an attempt to undermine them. (More...)

UPDATE: Sen. Jay Rockefeller, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, has demanded that the FBI investigate the forged documents and US handling of them in a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller. Rockefeller asked the FBI to determine the source of the documents, the sophistication of the forgeries, the motivation of those responsible, why intelligence agencies didn't recognize them as forgeries and whether they are part of a larger disinformation campaign. (More...)

[Read the source...]

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