YELLOWCAKE UPDATE….Remember those forged documents showing that Niger had tried to sell uranium yellowcake to Iraq? We never did find out where those forgeries came from, but the Financial Times says it’s discovered the source:
The fake documents were handed to an Italian journalist working for the Italian magazine Panorama by a businessman in October 2002. According to a senior official with detailed knowledge of the case, this businessman had been dismissed from the Italian armed forces for dishonourable conduct 25 years earlier.
….The businessman, referred to by a pseudonym in the Panorama article, had previously tried to sell the documents to several intelligence services, according to a western intelligence officer.
It was later established that he had a record of extortion and deception and had been convicted by a Rome court in 1985 and later arrested at least twice. The suspected forger’s real name is known to the FT, but cannot be used because of legal constraints. He did not return telephone calls yesterday, and is understood to be planning to reveal selected aspects of his story to a US television channel.
Sounds like we’re going to find out more about this very soon. Stay tuned.
On another note, the article also mentions that while the CIA never believed Iraq had tried to procure yellowcake from Niger (this was the famous “16 words” controversy from last year), British intelligence has always contended that there really were serious contacts between Iraq and Niger. The FT story has some more details about the nature of the contacts and the reasons that the British believed them. Oddly, though, it remains unclear why the CIA discounted them, so it’s hard to know what to make of this new information.