Blair tells inquiry: Iraq WMD document wasn't ''sexed up''
British Prime Minister Tony Blair told an inquiry Thursday that his office did not exaggerate estimates of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and said that he would have had to quit if it had.
Blair questioned the credibility of a British Broadcasting Corp. report that his government distorted the threat presented by Baghdad to bolster the case for an Iraq war.
"It was an extraordinary allegation to make and an extremely serious one," he told an inquiry into the death of a government weapons specialist.
"This was an absolutely fundamental charge ... this was an allegation that we had behaved in a way that, were it true ... would have warranted my resignation," he added.
He said a contentious government dossier on Iraq's arsenal was based on intelligence sources and was not manipulated for political gains. "At that stage (in September), the strategy was not to use the dossier as the immediate reason for going to conflict, but as the reason why we had to return to the issue of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction," he said, according to the AP.
Blair stated a claim in the dossier that Iraq could deploy weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes came from British intelligence and was not inserted at the insistence of his office. He added his communications chief Alastair Campbell assisted with the presentation of the document - but British intelligence decided on the content.
"I knew that it had to be a document that was owned by the Joint Intelligence Committee and the chairman, John Scarlett... We could not produce this as evidence that came from anything other than an objective source," he testified. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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