The investigation was centred on documents provided by a number of States that pointed to an agreement between Niger and Iraq for the sale of uranium to Iraq 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 activ ity took place. For its part,Iraq has provided the IAEA with a comprehensive explan ation of its relations with Niger,and has described a visit by an Iraqi official to a n umber 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 signatures of that correspondence with those of the alleged procurement-related documentation. Based on thorough analysis,the IAE A 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 sp ecific allegations are unfounded.
[IAEA GOV/INF/2003/10 Annex of 7 March 2003]
We have asked the IAEA what were their grounds for concluding that the visit paid by an Iraqi official to Africa was not for the purpose of acquiring uranium. The IAEA said:
. . . the Director General explained in his report dated 7 March 2004 [sic] to the UN Security Council that Iraq ”described the 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”. On a number of occasions in early 2003,includin g in a letter dated 1 February 2003,the IAEA requested Iraq to provide details of all meetings held between Iraqi officials and officials from Niger around the year 2000. The Director of Iraq’s National Monitoring Directorate responded in a letter of 7 February 2003 to the Director of the IAEA’s Iraq Nuclear Verification Office. (It should be noted that at the time of Iraq’s response Iraq had not been provided by the IAEA with any details contained in documents alleging the existence of a uranium contract.)
The Iraqi response referred to above explained that,on 8 February 1999,Mr . Wissam Al Zahawie,Iraq’s then Ambassador to the Holy See,as part of a trip to four A frican countries,visited Niger as an envoy of the then President of Iraq to Mr. Ibr ahim Bare, the then President of Niger,in order to deliver an official invitation for a visit to Iraq, planned for 20 to 30 April 1999. (N.B. Mr. Bare passed away on 9 April 1999.) According to the Iraqi information,no such presidential visit from Niger to Iraq took place before 2003.
The Iraqi authorities provided the IAEA with excerpts from Mr. Al Zahawie’s travel report to Niger. These excerpts support the above explanation by the Ambassador regarding the purpose of his visit to Niger and do not contain any references to discussions about uranium supply from Niger.
In order to further clarify the matter,the IAEA interviewed Mr. Al Zahawie on 12 February 2003. The information provided by the Ambassador about details about his 1999 trip to Africa also supported the information obtained previously by the