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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 July, 2003, 22:55 GMT 23:55 UK
Aide takes blame for uranium claim
Stephen Hadley, US deputy national security adviser
Hadley says the blame lies with him
A senior US national security adviser has said it was his fault that allegations about Iraq's nuclear ambitions were not removed from a speech by the US president.

Stephen Hadley, America's deputy national security adviser who reports to Condoleezza Rice, said he should have deleted a reference to claims that Iraq had tried to buy uranium in Africa from George W Bush's State of the Union speech in January.

The UK Government had alleged that Saddam Hussein's regime had tried to buy uranium for nuclear weapons from the West African state of Niger.

The UN later said that documents which backed the claims were forgeries, although the UK Government says it has other sources for the claims.


Mr Hadley said the Central Intelligence Agency director, George Tenet, had warned him that the intelligence was suspect, and had earlier asked him to remove similar language from an October speech by the president, Reuters news agency reported.

"The high standards the president set were not met," Mr Hadley said.

"I should have recalled at the time of the State of the Union speech that there was controversy associated with the uranium issue."

He said he had apologised to the US president.

Both Ms Rice and CIA director George Tenet have already said that the uranium allegations should not have been included in Mr Bush's speech because they considered the specific intelligence to be flawed.


Mr Hadley said the CIA objections to including the allegations in Mr Bush's October speech came in the form of two memos sent to him and presidential speechwriter Michael Gerson and at least one telephone conversation with Mr Tenet.

One memorandum said the CIA had "reservations" about the British reporting of the uranium claims, the Associated Press news agency reported.

As a result of the contact the references were removed from this speech.

However, Mr Hadley said he failed to recall these memoranda - which Mr Gerson is said to have found over the weekend - and phone calls when it came to Mr Bush's later State of the Union address.

"I should have either asked that the 16 words dealing with that subject be stricken or I should have alerted Mr Tenet," he says.

"And had I done so this would have avoided the whole current controversy."

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