Reader Dilip Balamore pointed us to this article in today’s Telegraph:
he Italian businessman at the centre of a furious row between France and Italy over whose intelligence service was to blame for bogus documents suggesting Saddam Hussein was seeking to buy material for nuclear bombs has admitted that he was in the pay of France.
The man, identified by an Italian news agency as Rocco Martino, was the subject of a Telegraph article earlier this month in which he was referred to by his intelligence codename, “Giacomo”.
His admission to investigating magistrates in Rome on Friday apparently confirms suggestions that – by commissioning “Giacomo” to procure and circulate documents – France was responsible for some of the information later used by Britain and the United States to promote the case for war with Iraq.
talian diplomats have claimed that, by disseminating bogus documents stating that Iraq was trying to buy low-grade “yellowcake” uranium from Niger, France was trying to “set up” Britain and America in the hope that when the mistake was revealed it would undermine the case for war, which it wanted to prevent.
It isn’t obvious that this is the correct interpretation; for now, suffice it to say that we haven’t heard the last of this story, and whatever lies behind it is sure to be interesting.
In the meantime, as we have argued on a number of occasions, it is almost certainly true that Iraq was trying to buy uranium from Niger, and the administration was foolish to back off that statement in the President’s State of the Union speech.