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英タイムズ:ニジェール核情報問題で英米に亀裂。大西洋を挟む世界の指導的な二つの秘密情報機関の仲違いに発展か。
http://www.asyura.com/0306/war36/msg/889.html
投稿者 木村愛二 日時 2003 年 7 月 13 日 21:14:46:

タイムズ:ニジェール核情報問題で英米に亀裂。

大西洋を挟む世界の指導的な二つの秘密情報機関の仲違いに発展か。

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-744001,00.html

July 13, 2003
Blair-US rift over Iraqi nuclear plot
Nicholas Rufford

THE row over the justification for war with Iraq deepened yesterday as a transatlantic split emerged between the world's two leading spy agencies.

The CIA said it did not believe British secret service claims of an alleged plot by Iraq to buy uranium for nuclear weapons in Niger, west Africa.

MI6 stood by its story but refused to provide evidence to its ally, saying protocol did not permit it.

The war of words is one of the most serious between the two agencies, which normally co-operate closely and share intelligence under an agreement known as Ukusa.

The row blew up after George Tenet, the head of the CIA, issued a statement on Friday night saying the uranium claim was "highly dubious".

Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, was forced to defend the British government's position, saying the uranium story "was based on reliable intelligence which we had not shared with the US for good reasons".

Iraq was said in a Whitehall dossier published last September to have shopped for uranium for which it had no civilian use. The story lent strong support to claims that Iraq was attempting to acquire nuclear weapons.

President George Bush used the uranium story in his state of the union address to the American nation in January, before the invasion of Iraq. But the CIA said on Friday that the claim should not have been included in the speech because it was unreliable. "It was a mistake," said a spokesman.

In a letter to the chairman of the Commons foreign affairs committee released yesterday, Straw confirmed that the CIA had asked Britain to remove the uranium claim from its dossier.

But he said: "UK officials were confident that the dossier's statement was based on reliable intelligence which we had not shared with the US (for good reasons, which I have given your committee in private session). A judgment was therefore made to retain it."

He went on to point out that evidence given by the former US ambassador to Gabon, Joseph Wilson, who investigated the uranium story for the CIA, was not shared with the British. Officials read Wilson's findings, that the Niger authorities had denied any link, only in the press.

The growing transatlantic row is likely to be exploited by Tony Blair's political opponents and members of his own party. Robin Cook, who resigned from the cabinet over the decision to go to war against Iraq, said: "It is time that the government came clean and published the extra evidence they claim proves there was a uranium deal.

"There is one simple question the government must answer when the Commons meets tomorrow: why did their evidence of a uranium deal not convince the CIA? If it was not good enough to be in the president's address, it was not good enough to go in the prime minister's dossier."

Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrats' foreign affairs spokesman, described the "bickering" between the British and American intelligence agencies as a blow to the government's credibility. "It is deeply damaging when allies begin to fall out in public in this way," he said.

The uranium row is likely to generate new calls for an inquiry into the government's handling of the run-up to the war. The issue is to be scrutinised in the Commons by the foreign affairs committee and the intelligence and security committee.

The investigations will prolong the drawn-out political turmoil over the government's handling of intelligence on Iraq.

Ann Taylor, the chairwoman of the intelligence and security committee, said yesterday the question of Iraq's attempted purchase of uranium would be thoroughly investigated.

Donald Anderson, the chairman of the foreign affairs committee, said questions about the uranium claim had already been put to the Foreign Office and the committee was awaiting a response. "Clearly we want to know what source, what evidence . . . was available, and we await a reply," he said.

Privately, MI6 is furious with the Americans for what one insider described as "incompetent handling" of delicate issues that had embarrassingly become public.

Tenet said in his statement last week that claims about Iraq seeking nuclear material "did not rise to the level of certainty which should be required for presidential speeches. The CIA should have ensured that it was removed (from the president's speech)".

Observers are puzzled as to why Britain refused to share its intelligence, to the point of forcing Tenet into a humiliating climbdown. The decision is even more surprising considering that a CIA representative sits on Britain's joint intelligence committee, albeit with limited access. The committee wrote the September dossier that includes the uranium claim.

"We are not at liberty to share the information that we have with the Americans because it has come from sources which make that difficult under the protocols of our type of work," said a senior Foreign Office source.

"But the sources we have, we believe have produced intelligence that holds good as far as the claim goes in our September dossier. In other words, there was Iraqi intent to purchase uranium from Niger."

A Foreign Office source said MI6 had "multiple, reliable sources" for its claims.

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