Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Blair links Iraq war with war on terrorism

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

London, March 5, IRNA - British Prime Minister Tony Blair Friday 
launched a fresh defence of waging a war against Iraq by linking it 
with the war against terrorism. 
He also argued that the divisions caused by the war was over its 
"immensely difficult judgment." He also changed tact by denying that 
he claimed Iraq was an immediate threat following the failure to find 
any weapons of mass destruction. 
Speaking at his Sedgefield constituency in north-east England, 
Blair suggested that the issue of the Iraq war, which has plagued his 
leadership for more than 18 months, cannot just be swept away. 
"It is because it was in March 2003 and remains my fervent view 
that the nature of the global threat we face in Britain and round the 
world is real and existential and it is the task of leadership to 
expose it and fight it, whatever the political cost," he said. 
In a detailed defence of the case for the Iraq war, the Prime 
Minister played down the nature of the dispute being about its 
legality, arguing that once the row dies down another then another 
will take its place. 
"All of it in the end is an elaborate smoke screen to prevent us 
seeing the real issue: which is not a matter of trust but of 
judgment," he said. 
Blair also cited extracts from his earlier speech to deny that he 
had ever insisted that Iraq was an imminent threat to Britain. He also
argued that if Saddam Hussein had been an imminent threat, Britain 
would have taken action in September 2002 and not gone to the UN. 
"The real point is that those who disagree with the war, disagree 
fundamentally with the judgment that led to war," he said, while 
trying to rebut challenges to its legality. 
The Prime Minister also used the speech to issue his starkest 
warning about the threat of terrorism, saying that Britain cannot 
afford to "err on the side of caution." 
He lambasted his opponents, who preferred to play it long, of 
having a "worldly wise cynicism (that) is actually at best naivety 
and at worst dereliction." 
"When they talk as they do now of diplomacy coming back into 
fashion in respect of Iran or North Korea or Libya, do they seriously 
think that diplomacy alone has brought about this change?" Blair 
rhetorically asked. 
Instead, he claimed that it was the Iraq war that had led Libya to
own up about its weapons of mass destruction programmes and Iran to 
reach a deal with the International Atomic Energy Agency. 
HC/211 
End 



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