Blair says he remains confident about intelligence on Iraqi WMD as he reiterates justification of war
Speaking during his monthly televised news conference Wednesday, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said his appetite for power remained "undiminished" despite his recent troubles, as he added he understood the "very legitimate questions" to be asked.
The Prime Minister, asked about Labour's relations with the BBC after reports that intelligence on Iraq's weapons was exaggerated, said all the British government had wanted was to "correct an incorrect story".
According to Sky News, Blair said, “What we did in Iraq was right and justified and that's a case that we have to prove over time." Asked if there needed to be a change in political culture following the death of arms expert Dr. David Kelly in the Iraq weapons dossier affair, Blair replied, "There are issues there ... to look at for both the media and politicians.
While rejecting calls for a wider independent inquiry into the case for war against Baghdad, he refused to be drawn on questions about whether he would resign if no weapons of mass destruction are discovered in Iraq.
Asked about comments by cabinet minister Lord Falconer that Blair would lead Labour into a third term in government, Blair said, "There is a big job of work to do - my appetite for doing it is undiminished. Who the country elects is ultimately for the country." The Prime Minister said voters would ultimately judge his government on domestic issues, rather than on the controversy surrounding the Iraq war.
According to the BBC, Blair said he did not believe an inquiry into the war on Iraq was justified, but urged people to wait for reports from the Iraqi Survey Group, a team of specialists tasked with looking for evidence of weapons, before rushing to judgement.
The British leader said he remained confident that the intelligence on Saddam Hussein's weapons programs received by the government was correct, "There has always been something bizarre about the notion that Saddam never had any weapons of mass destruction."
Asked whether he wanted ousted Iraqi president Saddam Hussein dead or alive, he said, "I think the most important thing is that he ceases to be an obstacle to progress in Iraq." (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)