Britain's case against Iraq

SUN JOURNAL

Dossier: Prime Minister Tony Blair details for Parliament the information on Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction program collected by intelligence agencies.

September 25, 2002

The British government published a 50-page paper yesterday, prepared by its intelligence agencies, setting out its case for taking action against Iraq.

Prime Minister Tony Blair presented the dossier to Parliament, which he had called into special session for the occasion. Here are excerpts of Blair's remarks, taken from government transcripts.

"At the end of the [Persian] gulf war, the full extent of Saddam [Hussein]'s chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs became clear. As a result, the [United Nations] passed a series of resolutions demanding Iraq disarm itself of such weapons and establishing a regime of weapons inspection and monitoring to do the task. They were to be given unconditional and unrestricted access to all and any Iraqi sites.

"All this is accepted fact. In addition, it is fact, documented by U.N. inspectors, that Iraq almost immediately began to obstruct the inspections. Visits were delayed; on occasions, inspectors threatened; materiel was moved; special sites, shut to the inspectors, were unilaterally designated by Iraq.

"The work of the inspectors continued but against a background of increasing obstruction and non-compliance. ...

"Eventually in 1997, the U.N. inspectors declared they were unable to fulfil their task. A year of negotiation and further obstruction occurred until finally in late 1998, the U.N. team were forced to withdraw.

"As the dossier sets out, we estimate on the basis of the U.N.'s work that there were: up to 360 tons of bulk chemical warfare agents, including 1 1/2 tons of VX nerve agent; up to 3,000 tons of precursor chemicals; growth media sufficient to produce 26,000 litres of anthrax spores; and over 30,000 special munitions for delivery of chemical and biological agents. ...

"Because of concerns that a containment policy based on sanctions alone could not sufficiently inhibit Saddam's weapons program, negotiations continued after 1998 to gain re-admission for the U.N. inspectors. In 1999 a new U.N. resolution demanding their re-entry was passed and ignored. Further negotiations continued.

"Finally, after several months of discussion with Saddam's regime this year, Kofi Annan, the U.N. Secretary General, concluded that Saddam was not serious about re-admitting the inspectors and ended the negotiations. That was in July.

" ... There is one common consistent theme, however: the total determination of Saddam to maintain the program; to risk war, international ostracism, sanctions, the isolation of the Iraqi economy, in order to keep it.

"At any time, he could have let the inspectors back in and put the world to proof. At any time he could have co-operated with the U.N. Ten days ago he made the offer unconditionally, under threat of war. He could have done it at any time in the last 11 years. But he didn't. Why?

"The dossier we publish gives the answer. The reason is because his chemical, biological and nuclear weapons program is not a historic leftover from 1998. The inspectors aren't needed to clean up the old remains. His WMD program is active, detailed and growing. The policy of containment is not working. The WMD program is not shut down. It is up and running.

"The dossier is based on the work of the British Joint Intelligence Committee. For over 60 years, beginning just prior to World War II, the JIC has provided intelligence assessments to British Prime Ministers. Normally its work is secret. Unusually, because it is important we explain our concerns over Saddam to the British people, we have decided to disclose these assessments. ...

"The intelligence picture they paint is one accumulated over the past four years. It is extensive, detailed and authoritative.

"It concludes that Iraq has chemical and biological weapons, that Saddam has continued to produce them, that he has existing and active military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, which could be activated within 45 minutes, including against his own Shia population; and that he is actively trying to acquire nuclear weapons capability.

"On chemical weapons, the dossier shows that Iraq continues to produce chemical agent for chemical weapons; has rebuilt previously destroyed production plants across Iraq; has bought dual-use chemical facilities; has retained the key personnel formerly engaged in the chemical weapons program; and has a serious ongoing research program into weapons production, all of it well funded.

"In respect of biological weapons, again production of biological agents has continued; facilities formerly used for biological weapons have been rebuilt; equipment has been purchased for such a programme; and again Saddam has retained the personnel who worked on it, pre-1991.

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