Sunday, October 30, 2005

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL correction needs a correction; in a piece on the Wilson/Plame kerfuffle, they append this:
In January, 2003, President Bush claimed that Iraq had sought to purchase uranium -- a key ingredient in nuclear weapons -- from Niger. This article incorrectly stated that Mr. Bush claimed Iraq had purchased uranium from Niger.
But in 2003 State of the Union address, Bush didn't claim this: the famous sixteen words literally were "[t]he British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa". Africa, not Niger. Which is an especially significant detail when you consider that, besides Niger, there are other important exporters of uranium ore in the continent:
Africa produces about 20% of the world's uranium. Four African countries have exported uranium in recent years - Niger, Namibia, South Africa and Gabon.

Other countries - Zambia, Central African Republic and Botswana - are believed to have exploitable deposits.
Even more significant is that the Butler report about British prewar intelligence confirmed not only that Iraq had indeed attempted to buy yellowcake from Niger, but that they had actually closed a deal with Congo, although it hadn't been delivered at the point when the war started. It would have if there had been no war.

UPDATE. The Butler Report website doesn't seem to be worling now; you can also download the .pdf file from here, or from The Guardian's website (thanks to reader Charles for the alert).

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