London, Nov 26 (ANI): Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's government knew ten days in advance before declaring war on Iraq that Saddam Hussein did not have access to weapons of mass destruction, according to the inquiry into the war.
Inspectors in Iraq had informed the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that they believed that Saddam might not have chemical and biological weapons, but the new intelligence report was dismissed with British and US troops massed on the border.
The then Foreign Office's director-general of defence and intelligence, Sir William Ehrman, told the inquiry that information was received just before the invasion of Iraq on March 20, 2003, The Times reported.
"We did at the very end, I think on March 10, get a report that chemical weapons might have remained disassembled and Saddam hadn't yet ordered their assembly. There was also a suggestion that Iraq might lack warheads capable of effective dispersal of agents," he said.
"I don't think it invalidated the point about the programmes he had. It was more about use. From the counter-proliferation point of view it just proved [Saddam] had been lying and that he had prohibited items," he said.
Hans Blix, the chief UN weapons inspector, told the Foreign Office at the end of February 2003 that Saddam might not have weapons of mass destruction, the inquiry was told.
Blair continued to say there was a risk to national security from WMD without mentioning the new intelligence.
Tim Dowse, the Foreign Office's head of counter-proliferation at the time, said that in 2001 the threat from Iraq had been placed behind those from Iran, Libya and North Korea. (ANI)