London, Jan 19(ANI): Jonathan Powell, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's chief of staff, has admitted that Britain went to war with Iraq on the "assumption" that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
Powell told the Chilcot Inquiry into the war that advisers were confident that Saddam had WMDs, as he had used them in the past.
"We were wrong. Iraq didn't have weapons of mass destruction. We had an assumption that because Saddam Hussein had used WMDs, he had lied about getting rid of WMDs," The Daily Express quoted Powell, as saying.
"We had bombed Iraq in 1998 on that basis and it would have taken some quite strong evidence to -suggest he had got rid of them," he added.
He further said that without any evidence that Saddam had destroyed his stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, the Government remained "confident" he still had them in 2003.When our forces went in, we were absolutely amazed to discover there weren't any weapons of mass destruction," Powell said.
When asked by a panel member whether he had been concerned that intelligence on Saddam's weaponry might not be up-to-date, Powell said: "We didn't really have any doubts about it and I don't think other people had any doubts about it. We were confident he had weapons of mass destruction."
He also admitted that he could not provide any evidence to support Blair's pivotal claim in a dossier of 2002 that Saddam had a "growing" WMD programme.
Powell's evidence will greatly increase the pressure on Blair when he appears before the inquiry panel on January 29. (ANI)