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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Iraq inquiry: Tony Blair told ‘days before invasion’ WMD had been dismantled

Source: UK telegraph
Tony Blair received intelligence that Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction had been “dismantled” 10 days before Britain invaded Iraq, the inquiry into the 2003 war has been told.

The Foreign Office did not believe Iraq had nuclear missiles, but Mr Blair told parliament that Saddam was a threat to security in the Middle East because he still had chemical and biological weapons which could be launched at 45 minutes’ notice.

However, Sir William Ehrman, director of international security at the Foreign Office from 2000 to 2002, told the inquiry: “We were getting in the very final days before military action some (intelligence) on chemical and biological weapons that they were dismantled and (Saddam) might not have the munitions to deliver it.

“On March 10 we got a report saying that the chemical weapons might have remained disassembled and that Saddam hadn’t yet ordered their re-assembly and he might lack warheads capable of effective dispersal of agents.”
Sir William was asked by Sir Lawrence Freedman, one of the Iraq Inquiry’s five panel members, why the last-minute intelligence did not lead to an urgent re-assessment of the decision to go to war.
Sir William replied: “There was contradictory intelligence, so I don’t think it invalidated the point about what weapons he had. It was more about their use. Even if they were disassembled the (chemical or biological) agents still existed.”

The inquiry also heard that ministers were warned there were “huge” gaps in the UK's intelligence about Iraq's WMD programmes.


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