Blair's dossier

27 September 2002

The UK government on 24 September published its dossier laying out the case for the prosecution against Saddam Hussein. He stands accused of undertaking a programme to manufacture nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, ballistic delivery platforms, and having plans both on how to use and how to conceal them. The findings are chiefly the work of the Joint Intelligence Committee and are prefaced by a statement from Prime Minister Tony Blair, which concludes: 'I believe that, faced with the information available to me, the UK government has been right to support the demands that this issue be confronted and dealt with.'

On the question of what Iraq already has, the intelligence services found evidence of chemical and biological weapons, mobile laboratories to produce biological agents, and command and control plans for the conduct of such warfare. The chemical and biological weapons could be deployed within 45 minutes of any order to use them. Baghdad has also illegally retained up to 20 Al-Hussain missiles, with a range of 650 kilometres and with the capacity to carry chemical and biological warheads. He has also begun deploying the Al-Samoud liquid propellant missile and started producing the solid-propellant Adabil-100, while working on extending the range of both beyond the 150 kilometres permitted by the UN, to 200 kilometres. Facilities previously associated with the chemical warfare programme, such as the chlorine and phenol plant at Fallujah near Habbaniyah, have been rebuilt.

The dossier is unequivocal about Saddam Hussein's ambition to develop a nuclear capability, citing as evidence the attempted procurement of significant quantities of uranium from Africa and the recall of nuclear specialists in 1998. A report by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) released on 9 September suggests that Iraq could assemble a nuclear device within months of obtaining fissile material but the dossier makes a more conservative estimate of one-two years.

The dossier asserts that Saddam Hussein's regime has learnt from previous weapons inspections and has already taken steps to conceal incriminating material. Apart from the physical evidence of the military threat posed by Iraq, the report also dwells on the history of Saddam Hussein's regime, and his record of regional aggression and of human rights abuses against his own people. It states that Baghdad sets great stall by its possession of weapons of mass destruction, which it regards as the basis for its regional power.

CD

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