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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

UK opposition leader 'uncertain' about legality of Iraq war

IRNA


 London, June 6, IRNA - Britain's opposition Conservative leader Iain  
Duncan Smith raised his own doubts for the first time Friday about    
the legality of the war against Iraq.      
    "I will never know for certain whether or not we proceeded        
exactly in accordance with the manner in which we said we did, in     
other words in line with those resolutions," Duncan Smith said.       
    The legal advice to the government by Attorney General Lord       
Goldsmith was based upon Saddam Hussein flouting a string of UN       
resolutions and followed the failure to win a clear mandate from the  
Security Council before the launch of military action in March.       
    The opposition leader's doubts were seen as particular            
significant due to the support he and the majority of his party gave  
to Prime Minister Tony Blair over the war. 
    Despite his reservations, he insisted that he still believed it   
was "right to liberate" Iraq. "I believe that Saddam Hussein          
possessed weapons of mass destruction and the means to produce them," 
he told BBC radio's Today programme.       
    Duncan Smith on Wednesday added to the pressure on Blair to hold  
a full judicial inquiry into whether intelligence information was     
altered by ministers to justify the war against Iraq.                 
    Asked why he was now supporting calls for an independent inquiry, 
he said that he was "astounded and appalled" that House of Commons    
leader John Reid had alleged there were "rogue elements" in the       
intelligence services who had briefed against the government.         
    "I woke up on Wednesday morning still believing and wanting to    
believe what the government had said about the allegations that had   
been made over a number of days whether or not they had fiddled with  
the (intelligence) reports" on Iraq's banned arms, the Conservative   
leader said.    
    But then he said he heard Reid "alleging there was a conspiracy   
against the government by the very intelligence services whose        
information I had seen."                   
    This was the "tipping point" for the Conservatives to end their   
bipartisan approach on the war. The allegations of 'rogue elements'   
working against ministers "essentially debased the credibility that   
the government was standing on itself," Duncan Smith said.            
    "The trouble is people don't believe him (Blair) any more about   
what he's saying and the only way of restoring that credibility is to 
get an independent individual to come in, look very quickly at the    
information, make a judgment, publish that, let us all see what the   
 results are," he said.                    
    The Conservative leader said his concern was that people no longer
believe that intelligence information is gathered correctly and that  
debases the ability of the intelligence services and armed forces to  
operate.        
    "It's important clearly that we believe what the intelligence     
told us and I think to retain credibility that's why the independent  
inquiry is necessary," he said.            
    The prime minister has so far deflected calls by announcing that  
the intelligence assessments will be investigated by the Intelligence 
and Security Committee, which sits behind closed doors.               
    Analysts suggest an inquiry could be on the scale of the arms-for-
Iraq scandal that rocked the previous Conservative government in the  
1990s after it was found ministers were secretly arming Saddam during 
his war against Iran and prior to his invasion of Kuwait.             
HC/JB           
End             



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