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British intelligence claims that Saddam Hussein has been trying to import uranium for a nuclear bomb are unfounded, according to UN nuclear inspectors
Ian Traynor Saturday March 8, 2003 The Guardian
British intelligence claims that Saddam Hussein has been trying to import uranium for a nuclear bomb are unfounded and based on deliberately fabricated evidence, according to an investigation by the UN nuclear inspectors in Iraq. The chief nuclear inspector for Iraq, Mohammed El Baradei, yesterday flatly contradicted Downing Street's and British intelligence's claims of attempted uranium smuggling by Iraq and said that the documents used to substantitate the British claim were "not authentic".
In a 55-page report last September detailing British intelligence evidence of Baghdad's ongoing attempts to acquire weapons of mass destruction, the government said that since 1998 "Iraq has sought the supply of significant supplies of uranium from Africa".
British officials named the state of Niger as the source of the uranium and passed their evidence to the UN nuclear watchdog, the international atomic energy agency, in Vienna.
"Close scrutiny and cross-checking of the documents, the letterheads on them, the signatures on them, led us to conclude with quite absolute certainty that the documents were false," an IAEA official said.
"They were fabricated," said another IAEA official.
The fabrication was transparently obvious and quickly established, the sources added, suggesting that British intelligence was either easily hoodwinked or a knowing party to the deceit.
There was no suggestion that the British were involved in falsifying the evidence which is believed to have been manufactured in Africa, probably in Niger, and then passed to western intelligence agencies.
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