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Profile: Jacques Bautes


Positions that Jacques Bautes has held:

  • Head of the UN Iraq Nuclear Verification Office




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Jacques Bautes actively participated in the following events:


November 25, 2002      Complete Iraq timeline

       18 international arms monitors, including 12 inspectors from the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission and 8 from the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, arrive in Baghdad with their cargo of high-tech sensors, computers and other gear. [Associated Press, 11/25/2002; New York Times, 11/25/2002; Independent, 11/24/2002]
Make-up of Inspection Team - The complete roster of UN inspectors expected to participate in the inspections includes some 300 chemists, biologists, missile and ordnance experts and other specialists of UNMOVIC, as well as a few dozen engineers and physicists from the IAEA. Hans Blix of UNMOVIC will head the effort to search for chemical and biological weapons and Jacques Baute of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency will lead the team seeking to determine if Iraq has reconstituted its nuclear weapons program. [Associated Press, 11/25/2002]
Purpose of Inspections - The stated purpose of the inspections, according to the UN resolution, is to bring “to full and verified completion the disarmament process established by resolution 687 (1991) and subsequent resolutions of the Council.” [Sources: UN Resolution 1441] However, since the passing of the resolution the Bush administration has maintained that the purpose of inspections is much broader. For instance, US Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld will claim in January that inspectors are not to act as “discoverers” trying to locate things. Rather the purpose of the inspections, according to Rumsfeld, is to determine whether Iraq is cooperating. [BBC, 1/22/03]
Methods - The inspectors will “revisit the previously monitored sites to check if the equipment installed [by the previous weapons inspectors] is still functional,” explains a UN spokesperson. “It will take some time to do that work. We can't rule out other activities, but it's quite likely we will start with that.” Inspectors also says that they will not immediately conduct “intrusive” inspections into Iraq's more sensitive areas. As an aide to Hans Blix explains to The Washington Post, “We're not going to do in-your-face inspections. He [Blix] wants effective inspections. It's not our job to provoke, harm or humiliate.” The inspections teams will also investigate new sites that the US and Britain allege are involved in the development of weapons of mass destruction. Inspectors will have the option to interview Iraqi scientists without the presence of Iraqi officials. The interviews may be conducted outside of Iraq. [The Washington Post, 11/23/02]
People and organizations involved: Hans Blix, Donald Rumsfeld, Jacques Bautes

February 5, 2003      Complete Iraq timeline

       After months of delay, the US State Department provides the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) with the Niger documents (see Late 2001). The State Department includes the following caveat with the documents: “We cannot confirm these reports and have questions regarding some specific claims.” French nuclear scientist Jacques Bautes, head of the UN Iraq Nuclear Verification office, quickly determines they are fakes. [Independent, 7/10/03; The Washington Post, 7/20/03] Several months later, Melissa Fleming, a spokeswoman for the IAEA, will describe to reporters the ease with which the documents' authenticity was determined. “These were blatant forgeries. We were able to determine that they were forgeries very quickly.” [Independent, 6/5/03] When Jacques Bautes asks for an explanation from the US, there is no response. “What do you have to say? They had nothing to say,” Baute will later say in an interview with Seymour Hersh. [New Yorker, 3/31/03] There are numerous indications that the documents are forgeries.
Several of the names and titles of officials mentioned in the documents are incorrect. For example, one of the letters is purportedly signed by Niger's President Tandja Mamadou. The signature is said to be an obvious forgery. An unnamed IAEA official will tell Reuters, “It doesn't even look close to the signature of the president. I'm not a (handwriting) expert but when I looked at it my jaw dropped.” [Knight Ridder, 6/13/03; Reuters, 3/26/03; New Yorker, 3/31/03; Reuters, 3/26/03; Globe and Mail, 3/8/03 Sources: Unnamed senior official from the IAEA] Another, dated October 10, 2000, is signed “Alle Elhadj Habibou” —Niger's foreign minister who had not been in office since 1989. [Reuters, 3/26/03; New Yorker, 3/31/03 Sources: Unnamed senior official from the IAEA] The signature of one document is signed by a Niger official who had left his position ten years earlier. [Knight Ridder, 6/13/03] Another letter includes the forged signature and seal of Wissam al-Zahawie, Iraq's former ambassador to the Vatican. When Mr. Al-Zahawie is interviewed by the IAEA, he informs the agency that it was standard procedure for all diplomatic notes to be initialed and sealed, while letters were only to be signed—with no seal. He explains that correspondences were never both signed and sealed. [Independent, 8/10/03a Sources: Wissam al-Zahawie]
In addition to problems with signatures and seals, there are other problems as well. One letter is on the wrong letterhead. [Knight Ridder, 6/13/03] The “letterhead was out of date and referred to Niger's ‘Supreme Military Council’ from the pre-1999 era—which would be like calling Russia the Soviet Union,” reports Reuters [Reuters, 3/26/03 Sources: Unnamed senior official from the IAEA]
Yet another letter, purported to be from the president of Niger, refers to his authority under the country's obsolete 1965 constitution. [Reuters, 3/26/03 Sources: Unnamed senior official from the IAEA]
Also, in some letters, French words are misspelled and dates do not match the day of the week. [Mercury News, 3/18/03]
The IAEA also points out that the amount of uranium which Iraq is purportedly interested in purchasing is unrealistic. Seymour Hersh, writing for the New Yorker, explains: “The large quantity of uranium involved should have been another warning sign. Niger's ‘yellow cake’ comes from two uranium mines controlled by a French company, with its entire output pre-sold to nuclear power companies in France, Japan, and Spain. ‘Five hundred tons can't be siphoned off without anyone noticing,’ ... [an] IAEA official told me.” [New Yorker, 3/31/03 Sources: Unnamed senior official from the IAEA] The identity of the person or group responsible for creating the forged documents is never uncovered, though quoted sources and knowledgeable observers offer suggestions. According to some unnamed sources, a con artist eager to make money was behind the documents. [Globe and Mail, 3/8/03; Novak, 7/14/03 Sources: Unnamed sources] In a memo to President Bush, an organization of former intelligence officers calling themselves the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity suggest the possibility that “amateur intelligence operatives in the Pentagon basement and/or at 10 Downing Street” were involved in fabricating the forged documents. [Veteran Intelligence Professionals, 3/28/03 Sources: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity] In October 2003, a former high-level intelligence official tells Seymour Hersh that disgruntled former CIA operatives had fabricated the documents themselves in 2002 hoping that when the letters were exposed as fakes the administration's case for war would be discredited. [New Yorker, 10/20/03 Sources: former high-level intelligence official] Several months before hand, Hersh had suggested the possibility that the documents had been the product of a British propaganda program, revealed later as Operation Mass Appeal. [New Yorker, 10/20/03] It is also speculated that Iraqi exiles may have had a hand in the forged letters. [New Yorker, 3/31/03] Still another source suggests to investigative journalist Robert Dreyfuss that the creators of the documents might have been the group of “Israelis close to the Lukid party” who were supplying the Office of Special Plans with intelligence (see September 2002). [The Nation, 7/7/03 Sources: Unnamed former official]
People and organizations involved: Alle Elhadj Habibou, Jacques Bautes, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, Mohamed ElBaradei, Wissam al-Zahawie, Tandja Mamadou  Additional Info 

March 7, 2003-July 7, 2003      Complete Iraq timeline

       After the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports that the Niger documents (see Late 2001) are not authentic (see March 7, 2003), the US and British governments stand behind their claim that Iraq had sought uranium from an African country. The two countries maintain that they have additional evidence—from multiple sources—but do not elaborate. Pressed by journalists and inspectors to reveal their evidence, the two governments refuse. The IAEA tells Reuters that when it asked the US and Britain whether or not they have additional evidence that Iraq had tried to procure uranium, the answer was “no.” [Reuters, 3/26/03] Additionally, an informed UN official tells The Washington Post that the US and Britain were repeatedly asked for more information. Neither government, the official explains, “ever indicated that they had any information on any other country.” [The Washington Post, 3/22/03] An unnamed Western diplomat tells the Independent: “Despite requests, the British Government has provided no such evidence. Senior officials at the agency think it is involved in an information black-out.” [Independent, 7/17/03 Sources: Unnamed Western diplomat] The British will hold to their story even after top US officials admit (see July 11, 2003) that Bush should not have included the claim in his State of the Union speech.(see January 28, 2003) [Independent, 7/20/03; New York Times, 7/8/03]
People and organizations involved: Jacques Bautes  Additional Info 

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