Akashat and purifying plants at Al Qaim and Al Jazira which extracted and purified the uranium ore for subsequent use in nuclear enrichment processes.
In the course of the first Gulf war, the facilities involved in this indigenous route were
Subsequently, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
s u p e r v i s e d t h e d i s m a n t l e m e n t o f a l l t h e f a c i l i t i e s t h a t I r a q h a d b u i l t t o p r o c e s s , e n r i c h a n d Some unprocessed fabricate uranium, and removed all potentially fissile material.
uranium ore was left in country, but under IAEA safeguards and subject to regular inspections. Iraq would therefore have had to seek imports of uranium or uranium ore if it wished to restart its nuclear programme covertly.
In early 1999, Iraqi officials visited a number of African countries, including Niger. The visit2 was detected by intelligence, and some details were subsequently confirmed by Iraq. The purpose of the visit was not immediately known. But uranium ore accounts for almost three-quarters of Niger’s exports. Putting this together with past Iraqi purchases of uranium ore from Niger, the limitations faced by the Iraq regime on access to indigenous uranium ore and other evidence of Iraq seeking to restart its nuclear programme, the JIC judged that Iraqi purchase of uranium ore could have been the subject of discussions and noted in an assessment in December 2000 that:
. . . unconfirmed intelligence indicates Iraqi interest in acquiring uranium. [JIC, 1 December 2000]
There was further and separate intelligence that in 1999 the Iraqi regime had also made inquiries about the purchase of uranium ore in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In this case, there was some evidence that by 2002 an agreement for a sale had been reached.
During 2002, the UK received further intelligence from additional sources which identified the purpose of the visit to Niger as having been to negotiate the purchase of uranium ore, though there was disagreement as to whether a sale had been agreed and uranium shipped.
This evidence underlay the statement in the Executive Summary of the Government’s dossier of September 2002 that:
As a result of the intelligence we judge that Iraq has:
tried covertly to acquire technology and materials which could be used in the production of nuclear weapons;
sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa,despite having no ac tive civil nuclear power programme that could require it . . .
and in Chapter 3 of Part 1 of the Government’s dossier that:
The main conclusions are that:
This visit was separate from the Iraqi-Nigerien discussions, in the margins of the mid-1999 Organisation of African Unity meeting in Algiers, attested to by Ambassador Wilson in his book “The Politics of Truth” (Carroll & Graf, NY 2004, p28).