London, Jan. 30 (ANI): During his much awaited appearance at the Chilcott inquiry panel into the Iraq war, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has insisted that he supported the Iraq invasion because Saddam Hussein appeared to pose a "significant and continuing" threat to the world.
"The intelligence all led to the conclusion that Saddam Hussein posed a significant and continuing WMD threat. Looking at the intelligence, I can't see how anyone could have come to a different conclusion. You would have been hard pushed to find virtually anybody who doubted he had WMDs," The Sun quoted Blair, as saying at his six-hour grilling.
"Given Saddam's history, given his use of chemical weapons, given the million deaths he had caused, given ten years of breaking UN resolutions, could we take the risk? In the end, I believed - so did the Cabinet, so did the Government and so did Parliament - that we should not run that risk," he added.
While Blair admitted that Britain failed to predict the bloody campaign that was waged by al-Qaeda and Iranian terrorists after Saddam was toppled, he denied there was a "cavalier" attitude to planning for the conflict.
In the dramatic final minutes of his questioning, Blair said: "There's not a single day that passes that I don't think about the decision I made. In the end it was divisive, and I'm sorry about that. I did my level best to bring people back together again."
"But do I think we are better off with Saddam and his sons out of office? Yes, I do. If democracy takes root in Iraq, we and our Armed Forces will be able to look back with an immense sense of pride," he added.
Blair was asked three times if he had any regrets, but he said: "No."
Many protesters - among them were relatives of 179 fallen British personnel - had surrounded the inquiry venue in Westminster, central London, and called him a "liar" and "murderer". Many wore t-shirts bearing the slogan "Jail Tony".
Andrew Murray, chairman of the anti-war group, said: "This cowardly and deceitful entrance is typical of how the former prime minister sold the war to the country - behind the backs of the public."
Lindsey German, from the Stop The War Coalition, added: "He doesn't have the decency or honesty to face up to the public, military families, and Iraqis who will be here today in huge numbers to show their opposition to the war."
Police put up two lines of barriers overnight, forcing demonstrators to stand on the pavement opposite Westminster Abbey. (ANI)