The Wall Street Journal has been leaked those portions of the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate relating to Iraq’s efforts to procure uranium in Africa. The NIE is intended to represent the consensus of the intelligence agencies, and is presented to the President as such.
Here is what the NIE said about Iraq and uranium: “Iraq also began vigorously trying to procure uranium ore and yellowcake” and “acquiring either would shorten the time Baghdad needs to produce nuclear weapons.” Relating specifically to Africa, the NIE says:
“A foreign government service reported that as of early 2001 Niger planned to send several tons of ‘pure uranium’ (probably yellowcake) to Iraq. As of early 2001, Niger and Iraq reportedly were still working out arrangements for this deal, which could be for up to 500 tons of yellowcake. We do not know the status of this arrangement….[R]eports indicate Iraq has also sought uranium ore from Somalia and possibly the Democratic Republic of the Congo….[W]e cannot confirm whether Iraq has succeeded in acquiring uranium ore and/or yellowcake from these sources.”
In other words, what President Bush said in the State of the Union address was entirely true, and was, in fact, a very conservative summary of what he had been told by the intelligence agencies. That being the case, the Journal shares our puzzlement as to why the Administration has handled this matter so ineptly.
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