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Iraq: White House Admits Uranium Charge Based On Forged Documents

Washington, 9 July 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The White House yesterday admitted that "forged information" was unknowingly used to support a claim in January by U.S. President George W Bush that Iraq had attempted to buy uranium from an African country. White House National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton made the admission following U.S. newspaper reports about the false information.

"The Washington Post" yesterday quoted an unnamed senior White House official saying that allegations of dealings between Iraq and Niger should not have been included in Bush's State of the Union address.

In the speech, which laid out the U.S. case for war in Iraq, Bush said the information came from British intelligence services.

Earlier today in London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair rejected charges that he misled Britain and exaggerated the threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

"You would almost think that this question of Saddam and weapons of mass destruction was some invention of the CIA and British intelligence. There is no doubt whatever that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction," Blair said.

Yesterday, the parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee exonerated Blair's communications chief of allegations that he exaggerated information in a dossier on Iraq's weapons in order to justify the invasion of Iraq.

But the committee also concluded that a government dossier gave undue prominence to claims that Baghdad could deploy chemical weapons within 45 minutes. It also said Blair misrepresented the nature of information in another dossier which was largely copied from a graduate student's thesis.