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Plame Game - "How about some French Cream on the Yellow Cake?"

That France had a lot to lose with the fall of Saddam is an understatement. The Oil for Food Scandal has proved that France, Germany, Russian had all profited by Saddam staying in power and apparently this is why they didn’t back the United States in efforts to remove him.

However, as I pointed to in the , Hide the Cake post, the French owned conglomerate, COGEMA, played a pivotal role in what I think is going to be the real world-wide scandle.

The fact that COGEMA (the overseaer of Niger mines) was selling uranium yellow cake to rogue nations including Iraq isn’t news. In fact, London Financial Times Security Corospondent Mark Hubard broke the story of this connection in June of 2004. This via Mark’s article in the London Finanical Times: here.

An excerpt:

"Illicit sales of uranium from Niger were being negotiated with five states including Iraq at least three years before the US-led invasion, senior European intelligence officials have told the Financial Times.

Intelligence officers learned between 1999 and 2001 that uranium smugglers planned to sell illicitly mined Nigerien uranium ore, or refined ore called yellow cake, to Iran, Libya, China, North Korea and Iraq.

These claims support the assertion made in the British government dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program in September 2002 that Iraq had sought to buy uranium from an African country, confirmed later as Niger. George W. Bush, US president, referred to the issue in his State of the Union address in January 2003.

The claim that the illicit export of uranium was under discussion was widely dismissed when letters referring to the sales - apparently sent by a Nigerien official to a senior official in Saddam Hussein's regime - were proved by the International Atomic Energy Agency to be forgeries. This embarrassed the US and led the administration to reverse its earlier claim.

But European intelligence officials have for the first time confirmed that information provided by human intelligence sources during an operation mounted in Europe and Africa produced sufficient evidence for them to believe that Niger was the centre of a clandestine international trade in uranium.

Officials said the fake documents, which emerged in October 2002 and have been traced to an Italian with a record for extortion and deception, added little to the picture gathered from human intelligence and were only given weight by the Bush administration.

According to a senior counter-proliferation official, meetings between Niger officials and would-be buyers from the five countries were held in several European countries, including Italy. Intelligence officers were convinced that the uranium would be smuggled from abandoned mines in Niger, thereby circumventing official export controls. "The sources were trustworthy. There were several sources, and they were reliable sources," an official involved in the European intelligence gathering operation said.

The UK government used the details in its Iraq weapons dossier, which it used to justify war with Iraq after concluding that it corresponded with other information it possessed, including evidence gathered by GCHQ, the UK eavesdropping centre, of a visit to Niger by an Iraqi official.

However, the European investigation suggested that it was the smugglers who were actively looking for markets, though it was unclear how far the deals had progressed and whether deliveries of uranium were made."

Of course this is exactly how I’ve discovered it was done as well. First, the 500 ton cache at Al Tuwaitha provides the perfect “wash site”. Again, using the "crooked cop/evidence room theory", you could use it to lauder amounts of the same or like substance so long as the amount remained the same. Who would know?

You’ll remember that this cache had existed since the first Gulf War, when it was discovered and placed under lock and key and the “watchful eye” of the IAEA.

Yet as Rick Moran of Rightwing Nuthouse wrote: a while back:

"The IAEA placed a seal on the nuclear materials in November of 1992. From then until the fall of Saddam, the agency attempted to make sure that Iraq did not use the yellow cake to reconstitute its nuclear program, something the IAEA acknowledged could be done if the Iraqi’s were able to rebuild its centrifuges and gain access to additional fissile material. Keeping track of the material was made extraordinarily difficult by the Iraqis who regularly impeded IAEA officials from carrying out even the most routine inspections."

In essence, the IAEA couldn't then, or even now positively verify or prove that the seals were never broken or the contents ‘tampered” with. I have already noted that the IAEA is under suspicion of attempting to influence the 2004 Presidential election by it’s “Al-QaQuaa” discovery. Interesting enough likewise, it also discovered the Niger documents were forgeries just a week after Bush’s SOTU speech.

Again, Wilson’s curious trip to Niger in 1999 is key I think in this, as after all, with a new business that specializing in Strategic Management and International Business Development, and who was "going on the trip anyway" and had "lots of contacts!

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