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Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed 14th July 2004 - page 139 / 216

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Agency on this visit. The demeanour of the Ambassador and the general tone of the interview did not suggest that he was under particular pressure to hide or fabricate information.

Notwithstanding the information summarized above,and in view of the fact that the IAEA so far has not obtained any other related information than the forged documents,the IAEA is not in the position to demonstrate that Iraq never so ught to import uranium in the past. This is the reason why the IAEA only concluded that it had ”no indication that Iraq attempted to import uranium since 1990” but it would ”follow up any additional evidence,if it emerges,relevant to efforts by I raq to illicitly import nuclear materials”. So far no such additional information has been obtained by the Agency.

  • 503.

    From our examination of the intelligence and other material on Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Africa, we have concluded that:

    • a.

      It is accepted by all parties that Iraqi officials visited Niger in

1999.

b.

The British Government had intelligence from several different sources indicating that this visit was for the purpose of acquiring

uranium.

Since

uranium

constitutes

almost

three-quarters

of

Niger’s exports, the intelligence was credible.

c.

The evidence was not conclusive that Iraq actually purchased, as opposed to having sought, uranium and the British Government did not claim this.

d.

The forged documents were not available to the British Government at the time its assessment was made, and so the fact of the forgery does not undermine it.

6.5 THE 45-MINUTE CLAIM

504.

The Government’s dossier of September 2002 contained the claim based on an intelligence report that some chemical and biological weapons could be deployed by Iraq within 45 minutes of an order to use them. Much public attention has been given to the Prime Minister’s statement that he was not aware until after the war that this report should have been interpreted as referring to battlefield weapons.

505.

If this report was regarded as having operational significance, and if in particular it had been regarded as covering ballistic missiles (as was reported in some newspapers), this

would indeed have been surprising.

If, however, it referred to forward-deployed

battlefield munitions, the time period given would not have been surprising or worth drawing to the Prime Minister’s attention. But it was unclear, both in the JIC assessment of 9 September and in the Government’s dossier, which of the two it was.

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