Wed, Jul 09, 2003 - Page 6 News List

White House admits Iraq claim wrong


The George W. Bush administration has acknowledged for the first time that the president's claim in his State of the Union address in January that Iraq had sought to buy uranium from Africa was an error, The Washington Post reported yesterday.

"Knowing all that we know now, the reference to Iraq's attempt to acquire uranium from Africa should not have been included in the State of the Union speech," a senior Bush administration official said in a statement authorized by the White House, the newspaper reported.

The report said the official's statement came in response to questions about a British parliamentary commission report that raised questions about the reliability of British intelligence cited by Bush in his Jan. 28 speech.

The statement, released late on Monday, effectively conceded that intelligence underlying the claim was wrong, the newspaper said.

Controversy is raging in the US and Britain over charges that the governments of the two countries manipulated intelligence about weapons of mass destruction to make the case for war against Iraq.

No evidence of such weapons has been found by the occupying forces in Iraq.

The International Atomic Energy Agency in March dismissed a report about Iraq buying uranium from Niger as being based on forged documents.

Former US ambassador Joseph Wilson disclosed that he had traveled to Africa last year to investigate the report.

Wilson, Washington's envoy to Gabon from 1992 to 1995, told The New York Times and NBC on Sunday that he had reported back to the CIA that it was highly doubtful that any such transaction had ever taken place.

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