France! We should have known:
A row has broken out between France and Italy over whose intelligence service is to blame for the Niger uranium controversy, which led to Britain and America claiming wrongly that Saddam Hussein was trying to buy material for nuclear bombs.
Italian diplomats say that France was behind forged documents which at first appeared to prove that Iraq was seeking ‘yellow-cake’ uranium in Niger – evidence used by Britain and America to promote the case for last year’s Gulf war.
They say that France’s intelligence services used an Italian-born middle-man to circulate a mixture of genuine and bogus documents to ‘trap’ the two leading proponents of war with Saddam into making unsupportable claims.
They have passed to The Sunday Telegraph a photograph which they claim shows the Italian go-between, sometimes known as ‘Giacomo’ – who cannot be identified for legal reasons – meeting a senior French intelligence officer based in Brussels. ‘The French hoped that the bulk of the documents would be exposed as false, since many of them obviously were,’ an Italian official said.
‘Their aim was to make the allies look ridiculous in order to undermine their case for war.’
It all boils down to money: France didn’t want an inconvenient war messing up its privileged trading relationship with Saddam.