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floda Donating Member (296 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-03-04 04:31 PM
Original message
French Probe Led to 'Fake Niger Uranium Papers'
Financial Times
August 2, 2004

A French intelligence operation to safeguard Niger's uranium industry and prevent weapons proliferation, inadvertently led to the forging of documents relating to an apparent clandestine uranium trade with Iraq, western intelligence officials say.

The operation, begun in 1999, reflected concern among several intelligence services that rogue states may have been trying to procure uranium. France was also concerned about the security of its own uranium supplies from Niger, as well as the security of the two French companies that control Niger's uranium industry. Rocco Martino, an Italian businessman who has admitted that he has made a career out of "selling information", has held regular meetings with French intelligence officials in Brussels since at least 1999.

According to senior European officials, in 1999 he provided French officials with genuine documents which revealed Iraq may have been planning to expand "trade" with Niger. This trade was assumed to be in uranium, which is Niger's main export. It was then that Mr Martino first became aware of the value of documents relating to Niger's uranium exports. He was then asked by French officials to provide more information, which led to a flourishing "market" in documents.

He subsequently provided France with more documents, which turned out to have been forged when they were handed to the International Atomic Energy Agency by US diplomats. The exposure of the forgeries appeared to undermine British government claims that Iraq had sought to buy uranium from Niger. US officials have distanced themselves from the claim, though the UK has insisted the forged documents were not part of their evidence. According to senior intelligence officials, the forged documents were produced with the involvement of people familiar with Niger, and were created in 2000.

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Kellanved Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-03-04 04:37 PM
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1. No, this doesn't add up
The French Agencies are quite well informed about the former Colonies and certainly among the best in Europe (far "better" reputation than the British). No way they would have bought papers forged this poorly.

Also, the "the papers weren't the evidence" sounds strange: then why didn't the IAEA receive the real evidence?

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hang a left Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-03-04 05:09 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. I agree.
It is also inconsistent with Josh Marshall's information that the documents were forged in 2001 and he says he knows who the forger is. I have seen this story in 3 different European papers now. I think it is a front story to cast doubt on the possible indictments that (hopefully) are forthcoming.
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DrBB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-03-04 05:08 PM
Response to Original message
2. Looks like we've gone to the 2nd layer
Intel officers are taught to build their stories in layers, like an onion, so that interrogators or investigators will feel they've peeled away the "lie" and gotten at the "truth." I suspect they've got a few more to go here.

Waiting for Josh to weigh in on this one. Where'd I put my popcorn?
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mom cat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-03-04 10:03 PM
Response to Original message
4. I wonder how much this known forger and all around scoundrel
got paid to implicate the French just before our election. This guy's livelihood is in lies, so I'm supposed to believe that his revelation is out of the goodness of his heart? Not until the tooth fairy leaves a billion dollars under my pillow! :dem:
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