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Blair Reaffirms Support for Intelligence on Iraq's WMD Program - 2003-07-16


In Britain, Prime Minister Tony Blair has again stated that he did not mislead the British people or parliament over the threat of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. The British leader made the statement during Question Time in the House of Commons.

This was the last prime minister's Question Time before the long summer parliamentary recess, and Mr. Blair spent much of it dealing with a familiar topic: Iraq. And his answers were much the same as in his previous sessions with parliament. He reaffirmed that he stands by the intelligence that formed the basis of a dossier stating that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. The dossier played a key role in the government's effort to gain support for going to war in Iraq.

"I do not accept that people were misled at all. I stand entirely by what was in the dossier. And in case anyone should doubt that weapons of mass destruction was an issue that did not just preoccupy the British or American governments, in resolution 1441, the whole of the United Nations Security Council, not just Britain, not just America, agree this was an issue," Mr. Blair said.

While no weapons of mass destruction have yet been found, the British leader urged lawmakers to wait until interviews with key Iraqi scientists were completed to draw any conclusions.

And Mr. Blair said that toppling Saddam Hussein was worthwhile, regardless of the weapons issue. "Where we see Iraq getting its governing council on a broadly representative basis for the first time in decades. And when we know according to the U.N., not the British government, there are some 300,000 missing people and 80 mass graves, then I happen to believe we still did the right thing," he said.

But many in Britain remain skeptical and the calls for an independent judicial inquiry into the matter are growing louder. Mr. Blair is resisting all calls for a judicial inquiry, saying it would be totally unnecessary.

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