4 August 2003

The Australian | Niger: No uranium sold to Saddam [August 04, 2003]:
President Tandja, in a speech today marking the 43rd anniversary of his state's independence from France, again rejected the claim.

He also noted that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN's nuclear watchdog, had cleared Niger of all suspicion.

'On the basis of convincing elements presented by the government plus the converging analyses of different experts and professional journalists, it emerges beyond question that our country did not sell uranium to Iraq,' he said.

Even 'the most competent authority in the matter, the IAEA, asked to look into the charge publicly cleared Niger of all suspicion before the United Nations Security Council,' added the president, a former army officer elected head of state in 1999.

A British newspaper meanwhile reported today the United States had warned Niger to keep out of the row over uranium.

Quoting senior Niger government officials, The Sunday Telegraph said Herman Cohen, a former US assistant secretary of state for Africa, called on President Tandja in the capital, Niamey, last week to relay the message from Washington.

Frankly I'm surprised to see this in a Murdoch publication, but there it is. Evidently the US diplomatic pressure (if any) did not work. It will be interesting to see if the British ever actually publish their alleged separate evidence of the Nigerien sale.

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