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[casi] A article from:

You have been sent this message from as a courtesy of the Washington Post -

 although all  salient points in this article have been covered by Glen, it is 
significant,nevertheless,  that tthe Washington post covered it thoughtfully and critically.

 To view the entire article, go to

 Some Evidence on Iraq Called Fake

 By Joby Warrick
 A key piece of evidence linking Iraq to a nuclear weapons program appears to have been fabricated, 
the United Nations' chief nuclear inspector said yesterday in a report that called into question 
U.S. and British claims about Iraq's secret nuclear ambitions.

 Documents that purportedly showed Iraqi officials shopping for uranium in Africa two years ago 
were deemed "not authentic" after careful scrutiny by U.N. and independent experts, Mohamed 
ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told the U.N. 
Security Council.

 ElBaradei also rejected a key Bush administration claim -- made twice by the president in major 
speeches and repeated by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell yesterday -- that Iraq had tried to 
purchase high-strength aluminum tubes to use in centrifuges for uranium enrichment. Also, ElBaradei 
reported finding no evidence of banned weapons or nuclear material in an extensive sweep of Iraq 
using advanced radiation detectors.

 "There is no indication of resumed nuclear activities," ElBaradei said.

 Knowledgeable sources familiar with the forgery investigation described the faked evidence as a 
series of letters between Iraqi agents and officials in the central African nation of Niger. The 
documents had been given to the U.N. inspectors by Britain and reviewed extensively by U.S. 
intelligence. The forgers had made relatively crude errors that eventually gave them away -- 
including names and titles that did not match up with the individuals who held office at the time 
the letters were purportedly written, the officials said.

 "We fell for it," said one U.S. official who reviewed the documents.

 A spokesman for the IAEA said the agency did not blame either Britain or the United States for the 
forgery. The documents "were shared with us in good faith," he said.

 The discovery was a further setback to U.S. and British efforts to convince reluctant U.N. 
Security Council members of the urgency of the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. 
Powell, in his statement to the Security Council Friday, acknowledged ElBaradei's findings but also 
cited "new information" suggesting that Iraq continues to try to get nuclear weapons components.

 "It is not time to close the book on these tubes," a senior State Department official said, adding 
that Iraq was prohibited from importing sensitive parts, such as tubes, regardless of their planned 

 Iraqi President Saddam Hussein pursued an ambitious nuclear agenda throughout the 1970s and 1980s 
and launched a crash program to build a bomb in 1990 following his invasion of neighboring Kuwait. 
But Iraq's nuclear infrastructure was heavily damaged by allied bombing in 1991, and the country's 
known stocks of nuclear fuel and equipment were removed or destroyed during the U.N. inspections 
after the war.

 However, Iraq never surrendered the blueprints for nuclear weapons, and kept key teams of nuclear 
scientists intact after U.N. inspectors were forced to leave in 1998. Despite international 
sanctions intended to block Iraq from obtaining weapons components, Western intelligence agencies 
and former weapons inspectors were convinced the Iraqi president had resumed his quest for the bomb 
in the late 1990s, citing defectors' stories and satellite images that showed new construction at 
facilities that were once part of Iraq's nuclear machinery.

 Last September, the United States and Britain issued reports accusing Iraq of renewing its quest 
for nuclear weapons. In Britain's assessment, Iraq reportedly had "sought significant amounts of 
uranium from Africa, despite having no active civil nuclear program that could require it."

  Separately, President Bush, in his speech to the U.N. Security Council on Sept. 12, said Iraq had 
made "several attempts to buy-high-strength aluminum tubes used to enrich uranium for nuclear 

 Doubts about both claims began to emerge shortly after U.N. inspectors returned to Iraq last 
November. In early December, the IAEA began an intensive investigation of the aluminum tubes, which 
Iraq had tried for two years to purchase by the tens of thousands from China and at least one other 
country. Certain types of high-strength aluminum tubes can be used to build centrifuges, which 
enrich uranium for nuclear weapons and commercial power plants.

 By early January, the IAEA had reached a preliminary conclusion: The 81mm tubes sought by Iraq 
were "not directly suitable" for centrifuges, but appeared intended for use as conventional 
artillery rockets, as Iraq had claimed. The Bush administration, meanwhile, stuck to its original 
position while acknowledging disagreement among U.S. officials who had reviewed the evidence.

 In his State of the Union address on Jan. 28, Bush said Iraq had "attempted to purchase 
high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production."

 Last month, Powell likewise dismissed the IAEA's conclusions, telling U.N. leaders that Iraq would 
not have ordered tubes at such high prices and with such exacting performance ratings if intended 
for use as ordinary rockets. Powell specifically noted that Iraq had sought tubes that had been 
"anodized," or coated with a thin outer film -- a procedure that Powell said was required if the 
tubes were to be used in centrifuges.

 ElBaradei's report yesterday all but ruled out the use of the tubes in a nuclear program. The IAEA 
chief said investigators had unearthed extensive records that backed up Iraq's explanation. The 
documents, which included blueprints, invoices and notes from meetings, detailed a 14-year struggle 
by Iraq to make 81mm conventional rockets that would perform well and resist corrosion. Successive 
failures led Iraqi officials to revise their standards and request increasingly higher and more 
expensive metals, ElBaradei said.

 Moreover, further work by the IAEA's team of centrifuge experts -- two Americans, two Britons and 
a French citizen -- has reinforced the IAEA's conclusion that the tubes were ill suited for 
centrifuges. "It was highly unlikely that Iraq could have achieved the considerable redesign needed 
to use them in a revived centrifuge program," ElBaradei said.

  A number of independent experts on uranium enrichment have sided with IAEA's conclusion that the 
tubes were at best ill suited for centrifuges. Several have said that the "anodized" features 
mentioned by Powell are actually a strong argument for use in rockets, not centrifuges, contrary to 
the administration's statement.

 The Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington-based research organization 
that specializes in nuclear issues, reported yesterday that Powell's staff had been briefed about 
the implications of the anodized coatings before Powell's address to the Security Council last 
month. "Despite being presented with the falseness of this claim, the administration persists in 
making misleading arguments about the significance of the tubes," the institute's president, David 
Albright, wrote in the report.

 Powell's spokesman said the secretary of state had consulted numerous experts and stood by his 
U.N. statement.

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