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Former IAEA chief Blix to testify at Iraq war inquiry

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-07-27

Former chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix will testify on the US-led invasion of Iraq at a British inquiry on Tuesday. Blix headed the team charged with finding Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and has been a vocal critic of the 2003 invasion.

 

REUTERS - Former U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix is likely to heap further criticism on the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq at a British inquiry on Tuesday, adding weight to the negative appraisals given by other senior figures.
 
Blix headed a team sent in to find any weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) present in Iraq. Washington was convinced they existed, and launched the 2003 invasion to disarm Iraq although the inspectors had found no such weapons.
 
The invasion led to the overthrow and execution of President Saddam Hussein and unleashed years of bloody sectarian strife which almost tore Iraq apart -- and no WMDs were found.
 
Blix had criticised Iraq before the invasion for not being transparent about its weapons programmes, but his reports fell far short of giving then U.S. President George Bush the compelling evidence that would secure U.N. support for war.
 
The United States and Britain, with a smattering of other allies, invaded Iraq without a U.N. mandate, an action Blix has repeatedly condemned in interviews and articles.
 
Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown set up an inquiry last year, chaired by former civil servant John Chilcot, to learn lessons from the war. Brown's Labour Party, in power since 1997, was defeated in an election in May this year. The former head of Britain's domestic intelligence agency told the inquiry last week there had been only a low risk of an Iraq-backed attack on Britain before the war, but that the country was "swamped" by terror threats after the invasion because the conflict had radicalised some Muslims.
 
Paul Bremer, the former U.S. diplomat who led the civilian occupation authority in Iraq for 13 months after Saddam Hussein was toppled, told the inquiry in May that both planning for the invasion and the number of troops committed were inadequate.
 
Brown's predecessor as prime minister, Tony Blair, has come in for severe criticism for committing Britain to the invasion, which was deeply unpopular among the British public. British troops have since withdrawn.
 
The inquiry is expected to conclude at the end of this year. Previous probes have cleared the government of any wrongdoing.
 
Blix will answer questions from the five-person panel in a three-hour session starting at 1300 GMT.

 

Date created : 2010-07-27

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