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Blair: Certain Weapons of Mass Destruction Will Be Found in Iraq - 2003-04-30

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said he is certain weapons of mass destruction will be found in Iraq, and his critics will have to "eat their words." Mr. Blair was questioned about the issue in Parliament.

Critics of the Iraq war want Mr. Blair to present evidence that toppled Iraqi president Saddam Hussein possessed weapons that could have threatened Britain.

The Conservative Party lawmaker, Peter Tapsell, asked Mr. Blair if he will resign if such weapons are not found. The prime minister rejected the idea, and urged his critics not to gloat too soon.

"I am absolutely convinced and confident about the case of weapons of mass destruction. And I simply suggest to him and others who believe somehow that this was all a myth invented by us, I would refer them first of all to 12 years of United Nations reports detailing exactly what weapons of mass destruction were held by the then Iraqi regime," he said. "And we are now in a deliberative way and in a considered way investigating the various sites, and we will bring forward the analysis and the results of that investigation in due course. And I think when we do so, the honorable gentleman and others will be eating some of their words."

Mr. Blair has said that there are now about 1,000 suspected weapons sites in Iraq, and teams will have to systematically search them for evidence of chemical and biological weapons.

In another development, the British Defense Ministry hosted a meeting of military officers from 12 countries to discuss a peacekeeping force for Iraq. A Defense Ministry spokesman declined to name the countries involved, but Denmark and Poland have confirmed their participation.

The British spokesman said the officers were discussing the contributions that different countries could offer to an international security force for Iraq. He described the talks as preliminary and said he could offer no time frame on when U.S. and British occupation forces might begin handing over security operations to a broader, multi-national force.