Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Blair remains opposed to inquiry into decision for Iraq war

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

London, Feb 3, IRNA -- Prime Minister Tony Blair confirmed Tuesday 
that there would be a new inquiry into intelligence gathering on pre- 
war Iraq but said he remained against it including the political 
judgement to go to war. 
Blair told the chairman of parliamentary committees that Foreign 
Secretary Jack Straw would make an official statement in the 
afternoon about what he said would effectively be a fourth inquiry 
into the lead up to last year`s invasion of Iraq. 
"I think there are issues to do with intelligence, to do with 
intelligence gathering and evaluation and use by Government which we 
can look at," he said following the failure to find weapons of mass 
destruction in Iraq and the US decision to hold its own inquiry. 
But the British premier insisted that he did not want the inquiry 
to go to claims that Iraq`s threat was exaggerated, saying he did not 
want a "rerun" of the Hutton report into the death of arms inspector 
David Kelly that exonerated the government of any wrong-doings. 
The decision to call a fresh inquiry comes in the wake of last 
week`s announcement by head of the US-led Iraq Survey Group, David 
Kay, who resigned after casting doubt on the existence of weapons of 
mass destruction in Iraq. 
The prime minister, who was speaking at his twice yearly 
questioning by committee chairman, said that he was hoping to secure 
an all party consensus on the terms of the inquiry, but revealed that 
there was still a dispute with the Liberal Democrats, who opposed the 
war. 
He confirmed that the Liberal Democrats were pressing for the 
inclusion of the political decision to go to war, but argued that this
should be a matter for MPs and parliament than an inquiry that is 
expected to be headed by former Cabinet Secretary Lord Butler. 
"Whatever is discovered as a result of that inquiry, I do not 
accept that it was wrong to remove Saddam Hussein or that the world 
is not a better and safer place without him," Blair said. 
He insisted that there was "no question whatever that the war 
was justified." He said he would have still gone to war and that the 
legal basis was not Iraq`s arms but because of Iraq`s breach of UN 
Security Council resolutions. 
On Monday, the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee suggested 
that the "continued failure of the coalition to find weapons of mass 
destruction" had damaged UK and US credibility in their conduct of 
the war against terrorism. 
It also concluded that the war had increased the risks of 
terrorist attacks and caused a "dangerous alliance of foreign fighters
with terrorist allegiances and elements of the former Iraqi regime". 
But Blair argued the threat from the terror group al Qaeda would 
have been greater if military action had not been taken against Iraq. 
He also rejected the idea that the war had made it more likely that al
Qaeda would acquire weapons of mass destruction. 
HC/210 
End 



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