London, Dec. 9 (ANI): Just days before the Iraq invasion, Tony Blair received two intelligence reports saying that Saddam Hussain did not possess working weapons of mass destruction, but the former British Prime Minister did not respond to them, an inquiry panel in the Iraq war has revealed.
The Times quoted Sir John Scarlett, the former chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, as saying that Blair ignored the reports, which had crucial military significance.
Regretting the claim made by the MI6 that Saddam could deploy WMD within 45 minutes, Sir John distanced himself from Blair's claim that six months before the invasion that "intelligence had established beyond doubt" that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
According to him, British Intelligence received a report 13 days before the invasion saying that Saddam did not have missiles that could reach Israel and none that could carry biological or chemical weapons.
A further report, received on the eve of the war in March 2003, said that Iraq's chemical weapons had been dispersed and that Saddam had not ordered them to be reassembled.
"I was certainly working absolutely on the basis that these updates were at this stage being read carefully. The consequence of concealing is they would be difficult to use and that was highly relevant because it would be difficult to use against US, UK military forces. So I am pretty sure it was taken on board," he said.
Sir John drew up the Government's dossier in September 2002, which contained the controversial claim that Saddam could deploy WMD within 45 minutes.
However, the inquiry panel refused to question him in public about allegations that the "45-minute" claim was based on gossip from a taxi driver who had overheard a conversation between Iraqi army officers two years before the invasion. (ANI)