Intelligence

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E. The National Intelligence Estimate

(          ) At the same time DELETED, the IC was preparing the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq's Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction. In mid-September 2002, in both hearings and in letters, Members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) requested that the CIA. publish an NIE on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs. Committee Members expressed concerns that they would be expected to vote on an Iraq Resolution shortly and had no NIE on which to base their vote.

(U) On September 12, 2002, the DCI officially directed the National Intelligence Officer (NIO) for Strategic and Nuclear Programs to begin to draft an NIE. The National Intelligence Council (NIC) staff drew the discussion of nuclear reconstitution for the draft NIE largely from an August 2002 CIA assessment and a September 2002 DIA assessment, Iraq's Reemerging Nuclear Weapons Programs. The NIO sent a draft of the entire NIE to IC analysts on September 23, 2002 for coordination and comments and held an interagency coordination meeting on September 25, 2002 to discuss the draft and work out any changes.

(U) Regarding uranium from Africa, the language of the NIE said:

Iraq has about 550 metric tons of yellowcake and low enriched uranium at Tuwaitha, which is inspected annually by the IAEA. Iraq also began vigorously trying to procure uranium ore and yellowcake; acquiring either would shorten the time Baghdad needs to produce nuclear weapons.

  • A foreign government service reported that as of early 2001, Niger planned to send several tons of "pure uranium" (probably yellowcake) to Iraq. As of early 2001, Niger and Iraq reportedly were still working out arrangements for this deal, which could be for up to 500 tons of yellowcake. We do not know the status of this arrangement.

  • Reports indicate Iraq has also sought uranium ore from Somalia and possibly the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

    We cannot confirm whether Iraq succeeded in acquiring uranium ore and/or yellowcake from these sources.

  • (U) At the NIE coordination meeting, the only analyst who voiced disagreement with the uranium section was an INR analyst. Several analysts from other agencies told Committee staff that they did not recall even discussing the uranium reporting at the meeting. All of the analysts said that the bulk of the time at the meeting was spent debating other issues such as the aluminum tubes, time lines for weapons designs, and procurement of magnets and other dual use items. CIA, DIA and DOE analysts all said that at the time the NIE was written, they agreed with the NIE assessment that Iraq was attempting to procure uranium from Africa. Some analysts said, in retrospect, the language should have been more qualified than it was, but they generally agreed with the text.

    (U) The uranium text was included only in the body of the NEE, not in the key judgments section because the interagency consensus was that Iraq's efforts to acquire uranium were not key to the argument that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program. According to the NIO, the key judgments were drawn from a CIA paper which only highlighted the acquisition of aluminum tubes as the reason Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program. The NIO said that at the NIE coordination meeting, analysts added other reasons they believed Iraq was reconstituting, such as acquiring magnets, machine tools, and balancing machines, and reestablishing Iraq's nuclear scientists cadre. When someone, the NIO was not sure who,7 suggested that the uranium information be included as another sign of reconstitution, the INR Iraq nuclear analyst spoke up and said that he did not agree with the uranium reporting and that INR would be including text indicating their disagreement in their footnote on nuclear reconstitution. The NIO said he did not recall anyone else at the coordination meeting who disagreed with the uranium text, but also did not recall anyone really supporting including the uranium issue as part of the judgment that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program, so he suggested that the uranium information did not need to part of the key judgments. He told Committee staff he suggested that "We'll leave it in the paper for completeness. Nobody can say we didn't connect the dots. But we don't have to put that dot in the key judgments."

    (U) Because INR disagreed with much of the nuclear section of the NIE, it decided to convey its alternative views in text boxes, rather than object to every point throughout the NIE. INR prepared two separate boxes, one for the key judgments section and a two page box for the body of the nuclear section, which included a sentence which stated that "the claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa are, in INR's assessment, highly dubious."

    (U) While formatting the final version of the NIE, the NIC staff decided to separate the entire aluminum tubes discussion into a separate annex that laid out each agency's position. When this formatting change was made, a text box INR had previously submitted for the body of the NIE was split into a text box on reconstitution and a text box on the aluminum tubes. Both the NIO for Strategic and Nuclear Programs and the INR's senior WMD analyst told Committee staff that INR's dissent on the uranium reporting was inadvertently separated from the reconstitution section and included in the aluminum tubes box in the annex of the NIE. The NIC staff disseminated a draft of the NIE in which those changes were made on September 26, 2002 for coordination. An e-mail on September 30, 2002 indicates that INR made some further edits to their text boxes, but did not change the placement of their dissent on the uranium reporting. INR analysts told Committee staff they did not notice that the uranium dissent was included in the aluminum tube section.

    (  ) On October 1, 2002, in preparation for an SSCI hearing on the NIE the following day, a CIA NESA analyst prepared responses to questions anticipated from SSCI Members. The          WINPAC Iraq nuclear analyst sent the NESA analyst comments for inclusion                                                              PARAGRAPH DELETED                                                             

    (U) On October 1, 2002, the NIC published the NIE on Iraq's Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction. The language on Iraq's efforts to acquire uranium from Africa appeared as it did in the draft version and INR's position that "claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa are highly dubious" was included in a text box, separated by about 60 pages from the discussion of the uranium issue.

    (U) On October 2, 2002, the Deputy DCI testified before the SSCI. Senator Jon Kyl asked the Deputy DCI whether he had read the British white paper and whether he disagreed with anything in the report. The Deputy DCI testified that "the one thing where I think they stretched a little bit beyond where we would stretch is on the points about Iraq seeking uranium from various African locations. We've looked at those reports and we don't think they are very credible. It doesn't diminish our conviction that he's going for nuclear weapons, but I think they reached a little bit on that one point. Otherwise I think it's very solid."

    (U) On October 4, 2002, the NIO for Strategic and Nuclear Programs testified before the SSCI. When asked by Senator Fred Thompson if there was disagreement with the British white paper, the NIO said that "they put more emphasis on the uranium acquisition in Africa than we would." He added, "there is some information on attempts and, as we said, maybe not to this committee, but in the last couple of weeks, there's a question about some of those attempts because of the control of the material in those countries. In one case the mine is completely flooded and how would they get the material. For us it's more the concern that they have uranium in-country now. It's under inspection. It's under control of the IAEA - the International Atomic Energy Agency - but they only inspect it once a year." The NIO told Committee staff that he was speaking as an IC representative and was representing INR's known view on the issue. He said at the time of his remarks, he did not believe that the CIA had any problem with the credibility of the reporting, but said the CIA may have believed that the uranium information should not be included in an unclassified white paper.

    (U) Also, on October 4, 2002, CIA published an unclassified White Paper, Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs. The NIO for NESA started work on the white paper in the spring of 2002, well before efforts began on the classified NIE. A CIA NESA analyst drafted the body of the White Paper and did not include text on Iraqi attempts to acquire uranium from Africa.

    (U) In October 2002, CIA's NESA published a classified Iraq handbook as a repository of reference material that policymakers, intelligence officers, and military personnel could easily access. In the section on Iraq's nuclear program NESA wrote, "Iraq may be trying to acquire 500 tons of uranium - enough for 50 nuclear devices after processing - from Niger."


    footnotes

    7 Committee staff interviewed all of the analysts involved in coordinating the nuclear portion of the NIE and none could recall who suggested that Iraq's interest in acquiring uranium from Africa be included in the key judgments. A DOE analysts said he could have made that suggestion, because at the time he did believe that uranium acquisitions attempts was an important sign of reconstitution, however, he could not be certain.



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