Prior to the Iraq Inquiry at which former British Prime Minister Tony Blair faced tough questions on the legal justification for taking the UK into the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq, he had plenty to say on the issue of WMD.
Blair is the star witness in a long-awaited inquiry that commentators hope will finally resolve questions about the intelligence that justified the March 2003 invasion, and whether the US-led war was legal.
Britain and the United States justified the invasion of Iraq with the threat posed by its possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in defiance of United Nations resolutions, but they did not have explicit UN approval.
The following is a series of quotes by Tony Blair on the subject of WMD made in the run-up to and subsequently to the invasion.
Before the war
April 10, 2002 – House of Commons
“For the moment, let me say this: Saddam Hussein's regime is despicable, he is developing weapons of mass destruction, and we cannot leave him doing so unchecked. He is a threat to his own people and to the region and, if allowed to develop these weapons, a threat to us also.”
September 24, 2002 – House of Commons
“The Joint Intelligence Committee concludes that Iraq has chemical and biological weapons, that Saddam has continued to produce them, that he has existing and active military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, which could be activated within 45 minutes, including against his own Shia population, and that he is actively trying to acquire nuclear weapons capability.”
October 2, 2002 – Speech at the Labour Part Conference
“Sometimes, and in particular dealing with a dictator, the only chance of peace is a readiness for war.”
February 25, 2003 – House of Commons
“The intelligence is clear: [Saddam Hussein] continues to believe that his weapons of mass destruction programme is essential both for internal repression and for external aggression. The biological agents we believe Iraq can produce include anthrax, botulinum, toxin, aflatoxin and ricin. All eventually result in excruciatingly painful death.”
Start of the war, March 20, 2003
April 28, 2003 – Prime Minister’s monthly press conference
“Before people crow about the absence of Weapons of Mass Destruction, I suggest they wait a bit.”
June 4, 2003 – House of Commons
“As I have said throughout, I have no doubt that they will find the clearest possible evidence of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction.”
September 5, 2003 – Interview with the New York Times
“They ask why we don't get rid of Mugabe, why not the Burmese lot. Yes, let's get rid of them all. I don't because I can't, but when you can you should.”
December 16, 2003 – Speech to British forces
“The Iraq Survey Group has already found massive evidence of a huge system of clandestine laboratories, workings by scientists, plans to develop long range ballistic missiles.”
January 11, 2004 – Interview on the BBC
“I remember having conversations with the chief of defence staff and other people were saying well, we think we might have potential WMD find here or there.
“Now these things didn't actually come to anything in the end, but I don't know is the answer.”
June 6, 2004 – Interview on the BBC
“What we also know is we haven't found them [weapons of mass destruction] in Iraq - now let the survey group complete its work and give us the report.”
September 28, 2004 – Speech to the Labour Party
“Do I know I'm right? Judgements aren't the same as facts. Instinct is not science. I'm like any other human being, as fallible and as capable of being wrong. I only know what I believe. The evidence about Saddam having actual biological and chemical weapons, as opposed to the capability to develop them, has turned out to be wrong.”