Nov 26 2005

Wilson, Gabon and Yellow Cake Uranium

Published by at 11:39 pm under All General Discussions,Plame Game

One of our readers has found some truly interesting news that could explain Wilson’s first trip to Niger for his wife Valerie in 1999. We posted on Wilson and his trip in 1999 here, and how it was just after a coupe d’etat in Niger and was a ‘business’ trip to the region for his new company. In that post we learn in Joe Wilson’s own words he was employed by African nations – presumably Niger and possibly the country he was US Ambassador to: Gabon.

In this post I discussed the possible connection between French conglomerate Cogema, which is in the center of the Oil For Food scam with Saddam, and the uranium trade.

And in this post, I show how a solid illicit uranium trade could flourish outside the oversight Joe Wilson claimed would detect any of Saddam’s attempts to acquire uranium from Niger or other countries. The money quote is from this Financial Times article referenced in the article, which blows holes in Wilson’s excuse for why Saddam was not trying to reconstitute his nuclear WMD program:

One nuclear counter-proliferation expert told the Financial Times: “If I am going to make a bomb, I am not going to use the uranium that I have declared. I am going to use what I acquire clandestinely, if I am going to keep the program hidden.”

This may have been the method being used by Libya before it agreed last December to abandon its secret nuclear program. According to the IAEA, there are 2,600 tons of refined uranium ore-“yellow cake”-in Libya. However, less than 1,500 tons of it is accounted for in Niger records, even though Niger was Libya’s main supplier.

Information gathered in 1999-2001 suggested that the uranium sold illicitly would be extracted from mines in Niger that had been abandoned as uneconomic by the two French-owned mining companies-Cominak and Somair, both of which are owned by the mining giant Cogema-operating in Niger.

“Mines can be abandoned by Cogema when they become unproductive. This doesn’t mean that people near the mines can’t keep on extracting,” a senior European counter-proliferation official said.

Now comes another shocker. The same French company, Cogema, was involed in the same kind of ‘mine abandonment’ in Gabon. Gabon, where Joe Wilson was US Ambassador. And the time frame? You guessed it: 1999!:

Global News Wire Africa Analysis
February 5, 1999
LENGTH: 294 words


BODY: Cogema’s closure of the Mounana uranium mine near here leaves sub–Saharan Africa with only three producers of radioactive material — Niger, Namibia and South Africa (where it is a by–product of gold mining; Africa Analysis, no.307).

With uranium prices depressed, and unlikely to pick up in the immediate future, Cogema (Compagnie Generale des Matieres Nucleaires de France) has abandoned plans for a short–life open–pit operation at the nearby Mikouloungou deposit, which contains an estimated 1,100 tonnes of uranium. Mounana’s 150–strong workforce, already shrunk from almost 300 five years ago, now faces redundancy.

Cogema has now put up for sale all the mining and processing equipment of Compagnie des Mines d’Uranium de Franceville (Comuf), in which it holds 68% stake. (The government has 25%, via French equipment contractor AEC.) This includes an entire 2,000 tonnes/day processing plant. AEC says all items are less than ten years old and have been maintained to French industry standards.

Gabon remains a major producer of manganese and has large unexploited iron ore and phosphate deposits. But the main prospect for a new operation lies with the UK’s Reunion Mining; it hopes to develop niobium reserves at Mabounie, 200km from Libreville but already served by the TransGabonais Railway.

A feasibility study for production of 4,000 tonnes a year of contained niobium is almost complete. This should confirm that the ore will need only light crushing before separation of a pyrochlore concentrate for production of ferro– niobium. Demand for the metal is holding up well, with the London Metal Exchange quotation for columbite (with a minimum of 65% combined niobium–tantalum) remaining in the $2.80–3.20 range since 1997.

If we go back to the Financial Time article we see this about the uranium trade and Saddam Hussein:

The Financial Times has now learnt that three European intelligence services were aware of possible illicit trade in uranium from Niger between 1999 and 2001. Human intelligence gathered in Italy and Africa more than three years before the Iraq war had shown Niger officials referring to possible illicit uranium deals with at least five countries, including Iraq.

The raw intelligence on the negotiations included indications that Libya was investing in Niger’s uranium industry to prop it up at a time when demand had fallen, and that sales to Iraq were just a part of the clandestine export plan. These secret exports would allow countries with undeclared nuclear programs to build up uranium stockpiles.

I guess it is stating the obvious the Wilson was also stationed in Iraq and knew a lot of key Iraqi’s in Saddam’s regime. And of course is wife was supposed to be monitoring the trade in uranium for the CIA. So was Wilson a covert agent or an entrepreneur making a buck connecting uranium sources to uranium buyers?

Interestingly enough, the amount of uranium estimated to be in the Gabon mine is the same amount that could never be accounted for in Libya. Again from the FT:

This may have been the method being used by Libya before it agreed last December to abandon its secret nuclear program. According to the IAEA, there are 2,600 tons of refined uranium ore-“yellow cake”-in Libya. However, less than 1,500 tons of it is accounted for in Niger records, even though Niger was Libya’s main supplier.

Was Wilson heading to Gabon and Niger in 1999? What was Cogema doing for its part in the Oil For Food scandal?

20 responses so far

20 Responses to “Wilson, Gabon and Yellow Cake Uranium”

  1. mary mapes says:

    AJ — Statting more obvious (via )

    “…At that point Saddam Hussein was still a U.S. ally, but he was being watched like a hawk. In late July 1990, Glaspie, who had already delayed her annual vacation to America twice, packed her bags and came home, leaving Wilson in charge.

    The night of August 1, Wilson had dinner with someone he describes as “Saddam’s principal arms buyer in Paris. It was so hot the air was literally shimmering right in front of the windshield. I get to this guy’s house, and it had been chilled to 45, 50 degrees … roaring fire in the fireplace and over in a corner a white baby grand piano and a guy playing classical music on it. The guy looks like a Pancho Villa figure, Mexican bandito…. We sat down to dinner, just him, myself, my wife[ I believe this wife#2 the French affliated one], and five bodyguards-armed.”

    Wilson got home and went to bed. The phone rang at 2:30 a.m. “I got up. It was dark out. Tripped over the dog. The voice at the other end says, ‘Mr. Wilson, I have the White House on the line.'” Stark naked, Wilson stood at attention. The line went dead. Wilson then phoned Sandra Charles, the N.S.C. Middle East specialist, who told him that the ambassador to Kuwait, Nathaniel “Nat” Howell, was looking out at gunfire and Iraqi troops surrounding the embassy there.

    Wilson marched over to the foreign ministry at 7:30 a.m. and pounded on the door of Tariq Aziz, Iraq’s cigar-loving foreign minister. They proceeded to have a forceful exchange, which resulted in the restoration of the direct-dial phone capability that had been cut at the American Embassy in Baghdad…”

  2. mary mapes says:

    opps! Sorry.

    Here is theLink

  3. mary mapes says:

    This is just a rouge thought, but could the whole Niger (forgery fiasco) been to muddy the waters, get eyes looking else where? 1999 was not a good business year for Gabon, devestating actually. Faced with this crisis, susbstiting income with the only other item of interest makes sense (the other export, wood, was in trouble)

    (remember too, MacRangers detailing the State Dinner hosted by Clinton Feb 2001 for Gabon and Wilson was there)

    Petroleum Reserves Dwindle
    By Antoine Lawson, IPS, 31 August 1999

    LIBREVILLE, Aug 31 (IPS) – The eight multi-national oil companies operating in Gabon discovered no new deposits in 1998, although massive exploration was undertaken last year.

    Gabon, which is heavily dependent on petroleum revenues, is trying to reform its mining codes to attract new investment.

    …More than 60 percent of Gabon’s resources come from petroleum. Today, the country has found itself in an unprecedented economic situation. Foreign debt is estimated at almost 3000 billion CFA francs and domestic debt has just gone down, from 600 to 400 billion CFA francs.

    One US Dollar is equal to 562 CFA francs.

    A major reduction in petroleum reserves would plunge the central African country of 1.4 million people into chaos. The petroleum companies and the government are pinning their hopes right now on new lodes of oil being discovered.”


    “Gabon’s economy is subject to fluctuating oil prices, and it must contend with diminishing reserves. Decreases in production since the mid-1990s have hurt the economy…

    …Gabon’s main exports are crude petroleum, forest products, manganese and uranium ores…

    …The leading trade partners are France, the United States, Côte d’Ivoire, and Japan. Gabon’s limited transportation network was improved with the construction (1986) of the Trans-Gabon railway, which links the new deepwater port of Owendo with iron ore and manganese deposits. Gabon is a member of the Franc Zone.”


    Headlines (first is Wilson’s trip w/Clinton)

    WEEKLY SELECTION:African Ministers Endorse Clinton’s Debt Plan
    By Jim Lobe on 20/03/1999 15:47:01 GMT
    WASHINGTON, Mar 19 (IPS) – Ministers from 46 sub-Saharan African nations, concluding an unprecedented meeting here with their US counterparts this week, endorsed initiatives by US President Bill Clinton to reduce their debt burden and promote US trade and investment in their region. … (continue)

    “GABON:Slump In Wood Sales In Asia Triggers Massive Layoffs
    By Antoine Lawson on 14/04/1999 19:18:01 GMT
    LIBREVILLE, Apr 14 (IPS) – Massive layoffs have been triggered by a slump in wood product sales in Asia, where the market for Gabonese products has dried up. … (continue)”

    GABON:Investors Urged To Set Up Businesses In Free Trade Zone
    By Antoine Lawson on 13/04/1999 16:21:01 GMT
    LIBREVILLE, Apr 13 (IPS) – Promoters of a free trade zone in Gabon’s economic hub, Port Gentil, are seeking foreign investors to set up businesses in this city. … (continue)

    RIGHTS-GABON:Housing Crisis Deepens
    By Antoine Lawson on 15/07/1999 19:02:01 GMT
    LIBREVILLE, July 15 (IPS) – Crowds of desperate homeless, standing in front of government buildings searching for information on billboards, have become a common sight in the Gabonese capital of Libreville, where there is an acute shortage of accommodation. … (continue)

    TRANSPORT-GABON:National Airline In Danger Of Collapsing
    By Antoine Lawson on 02/04/1999 11:27:01 GMT
    LIBREVILLE, Apr 2 (IPS) – In spite of effort by management to keep it afloat, Air Gabon, the country’s national airline, is in danger of collapsing. … (continue)

    AGRICULTURE:Fishing Industry Benefits Few Gabonese
    By Antoine Lawson on 16/03/1999 16:39:01 GMT
    LIBREVILLE, Mar 16 (IPS) – Gabon’s 800-kilometer coastline, rich in aquatic life, has done little to improve the life of Gabonese, who remain land-bound while fishermen from the rest of West Africa profit from one of Gabon’s greatest natural resources. … (continue)

    ENVIRONMENT-GABON:Wood Industry In Crisis
    By Antoine Lawson on 12/03/1999 16:26:01 GMT
    LIBREVILLE, Mar 12 (IPS) – A slump in the timber industry and delayed payments from Gabon’s trading partners have caused a decrease in exports. … (continue)

    Antoine Lawson
    Inter Press Service English News Wire
    LIBREVILLE, Mar. 5 (IPS) — Gabon, with its small population and
    abundance of oil, has one of the highest incomes in Sub-Saharan
    Africa, earning it the nickname of the little “Eldorado on the

    But the country of 1.36 million is now in trouble. The
    fluctuation in the world oil prices and the Southeast Asian
    financial turmoil have taken a toll on Gabon’s economy.
    According to the economic, social and financial report, included
    with Gabon’s proposed 1999 budget, the fall of the U.S. dollar and
    the price of oil will create a …

  4. sbd says:

    Brokers of the bomb New Scientist January 5, 2002

    Reed Business Information UK, a division of Reed Elsevier, Inc.

    New Scientist

    January 5, 2002

    SECTION: Opinion: Opinion – First person, Pg. 3131

    LENGTH: 528 words

    HEADLINE: Brokers of the bomb

    BYLINE: David Cohen (David Cohen’s film “The Nuclear Game” will be shown on Einstein TV)

    “RADIATION didn’t do me any harm,” smiled Bertrand Goldschmidt, who ran France’s nuclear policy for over 20 years. He is 90 years old and still fit enough to walk to the restaurant to meet me for lunch. Goldschmidt is the last man alive to have been hired by Marie Curie.Magazine

    “I agree,” said Akbar Etamad, who was the Shah of Iran’s nuclear adviser. He looks well under 60, but refuses to talk about his age.

    We were eating in a Paris restaurant as I started to research a film about nuclear terror. As a psychologist, I’ve always been interested in why we fight; as a journalist I’ve always been interested in the hidden deals. These two venerable gentlemen helped broker the deals which made sure non-proliferation was non-effective (just what their masters wanted). And some of them have fascinating tales to tell.

    Before de Gaulle became president in 1959, Goldschmidt worked for a French prime minister “who said that he was proudest of having made sure Israel got the bomb”. Some 2000 French experts helped make this happen.

    Over the Tournedos Rossini, more confessions by the ancients. I learned why dirt-poor Gabon, a former French colony in Africa, has an expensive railway system with high-tech tunnels. The railway was built to ferry uranium as part of a deal between France and Iran – a deal partly brokered by my lunch companions, Goldschmidt and Etamad.

    Iran invested dollar 1 billion in France’s nuclear facility at Pierrelatte in exchange for 10 per cent of the enriched uranium produced. Peaceful uses only – guaranteed in triplicate, of course. When Khomeini booted out the Shah, it all went poire-shaped, as they say in French nuclear circles.

    The French refused to hand over enriched uranium to the man who called America the Great Satan, but Khomeini took his revenge. Paris suffered a number of terrorist incidents. Like George Besse, who founded Pierrelatte, nearly all those killed were linked to the deal. The French government said the murders were the work of crazed Islamic fundamentalists. In fact, they were well-targeted warnings.

    The deal and the diplomacy weren’t sorted out till just before the 1988 French elections. In 1999, Paris was astonished when President Khameny of Iran, on an unofficial visit, paid his respects at the tomb of Marie Curie. He left a red rose. A nice symbol, Goldschmidt and Etamad grinned at the lunch table. Despite Khomeini, Iran got its enriched uranium.

    One secret we are all after is whether Saddam has the bomb. The positively juvenile (a mere 60) Khadir Hamza was head of Saddam’s nuclear programme until he fled because he wanted to keep his head in touch with the rest of his body. When he offered to help the CIA, they helpfully suggested he go back to Baghdad.

    Hamza revealed the wiliness of the “Beast of Baghdad”. To confuse the nuclear inspectors, Saddam placed some of his best nuclear scientists in a lunatic asylum. He was sure no one would suspect Iraq’s nuclear programme was being run from there.

    The nuclear game has fascinated power brokers since 1945. Sadly too many still want to play.

    For more science news see

    So, France and Iran built the Uranium Mines in Gabon including a rail system to send it on its way. If France and more importantly, “Chirac”, was/is willing to sell Uranium to Iran since 1999, why not Iraq as well? It’s amazing how the year 1999 keeps popping up regarding France, Uranium, Gabon, and Wilson.


  5. sbd says:

    Forgot to highlight the most important part of the article!
    Over the Tournedos Rossini, more confessions by the ancients. I learned why dirt-poor Gabon, a former French colony in Africa, has an expensive railway system with high-tech tunnels. The railway was built to ferry uranium as part of a deal between France and Iran – a deal partly brokered by my lunch companions, Goldschmidt and Etamad.SBD

  6. sbd says:

    One secret we are all after is whether Saddam has the bomb. The positively juvenile (a mere 60) Khadir Hamza was head of Saddam’s nuclear programme until he fled because he wanted to keep his head in touch with the rest of his body. When he offered to help the CIA, they helpfully suggested he go back to Baghdad.

    Sorry, just wanted to point out how the CIA reacted to some obviously needed help with Iraq intelligence. It would seem that the CIA probably did not vare because they already knew about it. The agency should be abolished!!


  7. MaidMarion says:

    Joe Wilson has made this comment several times, and in various words, since he went public in July 2003:

    “At the time of the State of the Union, I had no idea the President was referring to Niger. Remember, his statement was ’the British government have learned that Saddam Hussein recently attempted to purchase uranium yellowcake from Africa’. There are four countries in Africa that produce yellowcake, so he could have been speaking about one of the other three. It was only in March when it became apparent that Niger was the country in question that I came to understand that the administration had misstated the facts. To this day, I don’t know whether the President lied or was misled. I don’t expect him to be a fact checker on every detail in the State of the Union but at the same time he did say that he was responsible for every word in the speech.”

    Is this another example of Wilson’s clever “slight of hands”?

    Wilson would have us believe that on the night of the Jan 2003 SOTU speech, he became curious which African country was being referenced. And he would have us believe that he only found out the answer to this troubling question in March. Even with a wife at the CIA who worked the issue up close, Wilson seems only to have found out that the country in question was Niger in March.

    So…he finds out it was Niger…and in turn gets riled up because he personally had debunked the story back in Feb/Mar 2002.

    Okay, fine. I have various problems with his story, but put Wilson’s highly publicized perspective of the chain-of-events off to the side for a moment.

    Now consider this: Suppose the SOTU speech was NOT about Niger. Suppose the British had intelligence about Iraqi attempts to procure the yellowcake from one of the other four African countries.

    Wilson has been very careful to NOT make any statements claiming that Iraq was NOT attempting to acquire uranium from OTHER African sources. At least not that I have read anywhere (can anyone help me here?)

    His primary goal this entire time has been to frame the presence/absence of an “Iraq nuclear program” thusly: We know Iraq was not trying to acquire yellowcake because the Niger documents have been discovered to be forgeries. The implication = the forged Niger docs are evidence Saddam wasn’t trying to acquire uranium from that one African country…and therefore he wasn’t trying to acquire it from the other three either.

    The fact that Wilson avoids talking about the other three African countries raises some rather basic questions…it seems to me.

  8. mary mapes says:

    Maid and SBD

    This is exactly what I began to think when AJ wrote about this…the other 3 countries question always lurked somewhere in my head but IF —frame the question solely around Niger—was the idea, then it worked (absent any statement or info from the Admin.).

    I came a accross a headlines (and article synopsis–can’t find entire for free) the dates are key (and I could swear I came accross one about an new road route leading FROM Gabon)

    WEST AFRICA-ECONOMY:Ready To Do Business
    by Melvis Dzisah on 07/06/1996 18:53:01 GMT
    ABIDJAN, Jun 7 (IPS) – Agriculture has been the backbone of most African economies, but what lies below the ground is a whole new area of opportunity that governments are eagerly inviting foreign investors to come in and exploit. … (continue)

    TRANSPORT-TRADE:Removing Trade Barrier from West Africa’s Roads
    By Honore Yaovi Tchalim Blao on 11/11/1998 16:42:01 GMT
    LOME, Nov 11 (IPS) – What’s new on the main road from northern Togo to Burkina Faso is that a major barrier to a smooth trade flow in West Africa – checkpoints and the host of policemen and gendarmes who man them – has disappeared. … (continue)

    SUDAN:Khartoum Says Libyan Planes Can Now Use Sudanese Airspace
    By Nhial Bol on 04/09/1998 17:50:01 GMT
    KHARTOUM, Sep 4 (IPS) – Sudan says Libyan planes can now use its airspace, despite the air embargo imposed against Libya by the United Nations five years ago, a top Sudanese official has said here. … (continue)

  9. mary mapes says:


    I have NO clue how the trafficking and transport of these things work, but I wondered…could Niger have been just a “Conduit” for Gabon Uranium? In that Niger could transport it for Gabon, therefore it is undeclared? Slipping in a little more? Or some scenario like that plausible?

  10. mary mapes says:

    Wait a second…per my BTW thought above…if this is a plausible scenario it makes sense.

    If the idea is to mine in Gabon, have Niger ship/route it with their declared…think of it–6 degrees of separation. No one is really checking and ensuring the exact product quantity, Niger’s records are clean SO….no wonder the forgeries lead to Niger BECAUSE they can be easily DE-BUNKED there, because Niger has no paper trails, everything is pristine.

    Wilson is cock-sure of this de-bunking!

    Lots have asked the question, why the CIA sent Joe Wilson to do this task? I wonder why Joe Wilson knew SO MUCH about the Uranium industry?? (especially since his Niger post was earlier in his career AND didn’t really deal with the uranium mining industry)

  11. mary mapes says:


    CEMAC – Communauté Économique et Monétaire de l’Afrique Centrale
    (Member States: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, D.R. Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal)

    “The Treaty instituting the CEMAC was signed on March 16, 1994 in Ndjamena (Chad); it came into effect in June 1999 (Conference of the Heads of States of the CEMAC with Malabo)”

    “• the promotion of the national markets by the elimination of the obstacles to the intercommunity trade, the coordination of the programs of development, the harmonization of the industrial projects”

    Service of Countable Centralization
    Mr. Pascal MAMBONOU (Gabon)
    Service of Covering of Receipts
    Service of the Expenditure

    S/Direction Multilateral Monitoring
    Mr. Jovin-Angel IWANGOU (Gabon)

    Energy and Mines inspectorate
    Mr. Lionel NGUESSY MALAGA (Gabo

  12. Seixon says:

    I’m sorry if I missed it, but what does Cogema have to do with the Oil-For-Food program? I have looked through all the IIC documents from the end of October, and I don’t find a single mention of Cogema.

    Someone wanna fill me in?

  13. AJStrata says:


    You kno what. I have been trying to find it too. I saw it at Mac’s Mind site, and I know I saw it somewhere else. But I cannot find it now!

    An update may be in order.

  14. Snapple says:

    Cogema was consolidated with other companies in 2000 and has a new name–Areva, which is the world’s largest nuclear engineering group.

    Source: The Evening Standard (London, England), November 11, 2004

    Paris Planning Massive Nuclear Privatisation.

    Byline: ROSS TIEMAN

    FRENCH Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy plans to sell-off up to 40% of State nuclear engineering group Areva in a float that could value the business at e10 billion ([pounds sterling]6.97 billion).

    The decision comes as Sarkozy received enthusiastic applause from British business leaders after addressing the CBI conference in Birmingham, and only 19 days before he quits office to prepare a challenge for the French Presidency in 2007.

    The French government will sell down its stake in the first half of next year, market conditions permitting, to raise e4 billion and reduce its budget deficit.

    The part-privatisation is scheduled to be followed later in the year by the sale of a 30% stake in the French State electricity company, Electricite de France, which generates 80% of its power from nuclear plants.

    The French sell-off strategy contrasts starkly with that of Britain.

    Most of Britain’s nuclear power plants were privatised in the 1990s with the flotation of Nuclear Electric, which renamed itself British Energy, then plunged into losses and insolvency. Shareholders are still wrangling with the Government about its planned financial restructuring.

    Britain’s nuclear engineering industry, historically concentrated in British Nuclear Fuels Limited – loss-making owner of the Sellafield reprocessing plant – is being reorganised. In May the Government announced it was splitting-out BNFL’s nuclear cleanup business, Magnox, and US-based subsidiary Westinghouse into a new business, branded British Nuclear Group.

    There are no plans to privatise it.

    Areva, the world’s largest nuclear engineering group, will be BNFL’s biggest competitor.

    Born from the 2000 consolidation of French nuclear-related businesses Cogema, Framatome and CEA-Industrie, 96% State-owned Areva is a profitable business.

    In the six months to 30 June, Areva, headed by the doughty Anne Lauvergeon, quintupled net profits to e243 million on revenues ahead 29% at e5.34 billion.

    One reason for the profit and sales surge was the inclusion of the transmission and distribution business of troubled French engineering group Alstom, bought in January for e1 billion.

    But Lauvergeon, who has lobbied hard for the flotation, also succeeded in getting its once-lossmaking connectors business back into the black.

    Areva, which employs 48,000 people, benefits from having these profitable businesses making components for power transmission grids. But it still derived e3.14 billion of first-half sales from nuclear engineering.

  15. Seixon says:

    Hmmm. Areva doesn’t show up in any of the IIC documents either.

  16. Snapple says:

    Someone asked about what the big deal with 1999 was.

    Probably this is nothing, and you can all shoot me down for blind speculation, but the Czechs announced they were going to stop mining uranium in June 1999. I just happened to look it up because I lived in Czechoslovakia briefly during 1991 and know they have uranium mines. [Did you all know that the American embassy is in the middle of the courtyard of the state security? I am not making this up. ]

    M. Atta may have had had a trading company called ANS and an electrical construction company. ANS Holding had owners in the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Pakistan, and Germany. Who were these owners?

    Notice what the Czech State Security/BIS said, below, in a 1999 report. Iwonder if Atta could have been getting technology/uranium for Iraq. Perhaps he was a person who dealt in embargoed technologies/metals/arms.

    “As the world’s seventh largest arms exporter, Czechoslovakia also routinely sold arms to Iraq. But after the 1989 Velvet Revolution, bilateral relations soured, and Baghdad was forced to resort to covert means to acquire weapons and spare parts. And they established a considerable intelligence presence to do so.

    A 1999 report by the Czech Security Information Service said, “Islamic groupings continue trying to expand their contacts with the Czech government bodies and to influence their attitudes toward some Arab states, in an effort to restore mainly trade links from the time before the split-up of Czechoslovakia. Nobody was more actively engaging in espionage than Iraq. “There was a large parish in Prague, one of their largest stations,” Duelfer said, adding that Iraqi intelligence was involved in overseas arms procurement through front companies. Many of these companies were connected with Prague.” The 1999 BIS report said Baghdad was very active in catering for the needs of their mother countries as regards the procurement of technologies subject to embargo, especially those of military nature.”

    I don’t know if this is correct information. The paper reported that the owner was M. Atta but under different names. But Iraq’s main purpose in Czechoslovakia was to get technology and arms. So maybe Atta helped them.

    “On July 21, 1999, the government of the Czech Republic reaffirmed that all uranium mining in the country will end in 2001. During the last months, Industry and Trade Minister Gregr had campaigned for the continuation of uranium mining for about four more years, to fulfill the needs of the domestic nuclear power plants. This would have included the reopening of the already shut down Hamr underground mine. Production costs would have been above world market prices, however.”

    Go ahead, have at me!!!!!

  17. Snapple says:

    You know how in the mid-90s that the Germans were catching people who were trying to smuggle radioactive metals.

    Some of it was scams, but not all.

  18. Snapple says:

    Opps! It posted before I was finished. I was going to say that the Germans seemed really well informed about this smuggling.

    It was a little strange so many “stings” were happening in Germany. And it was also strange that if uranium, etc. was coming out of the former Soviet Union that it wasn’t just going to the ME from Russia.

    Why come to Germany to smuggle uranium? Some people wrote that the German security was trying to lure it there by pretending to be buyers.

    I actually did do a bit of library-type research on that over 10 years ago, but I was no expert. It wasn’t my real job. Still, at the time I wondered why, if this stuff was destined for the ME, they were catching stuff in Germany that was coming from the former BLOC countries.

    Does anyone know when Atta started living in Germany?

    I do recall that after 9-11 when I heard that Atta had lived in Germany, I wondered if he was involved in this trade in radioactive metals, zirconium, etc.

    Hope this makes sense.

  19. mary mapes says:

    Snap- I left this for AJ on another post but…

    …In a demand-side model, by contrast, the buyer or buyer’s agent comes to the seller. Adversaries would plan and organize a clandestine effort to obtain what they want rather than relying on stray bits of material to be stolen from laboratories and subsequently appear on the international black market. Also, a state planning to deploy nuclear warheads or missiles would want weapons-grade uranium or plutonium, enriched to more than 90-percent uranium 235 or plutonium 239; what fissile material does circulate through smuggling channels is generally of a lower standard. Additionally, an adversary such as Iran could use an umbrella of legitimate nuclear purchases from Russia to pursue a variety of illegal nuclear deals with respective suppliers. The elements of a sophisticated nuclear procurement chain—legitimate-seeming front companies, corrupt nuclear managers and officials, and smuggling stratagems to circumvent or overpower border defenses—might function for some time without being detected….

    …Finally, a well-designed support structure would be needed to transport the stolen materials from the target facility to their ultimate destination. Experienced middlemen would be employed for this purpose. An array of sophisticated smuggling techniques is available; for example, interspersing the material with legally tradable radioactive isotopes, using false customs documentation, concealing it in bulk metal cargo, or shipping it out in diplomatic luggage, which is seldom checked by the authorities. Consignees outside the NIS might take possession of the material—for example, an import-export firm in Dubai’s Jebel Ali free-trade zone—and then re-export it to a Middle Eastern buyer.”

    The whole thing was rather interesting, but the part I bolded made me think. I would never think Wilson smuggled anything himself (silly) BUT his diplomatic status sure made brokering some transaction(s) with all the paper trail easier no?

  20. […] On this site we have speculated that the rogue CIA elements that Hindraker is pointing to are so rogue they would partake in black market trade of such items as uranium. We have shown how uranium was/is still available from abandoned minds in Niger and Gabon – where Wilson was US Ambassador. Was the uranium from these abandoned mines (abandoned by French company Cogema/Avera Group) being routed to Libya through Niger? […]