Blair's Govt. 'intentionally and substantially' exaggerated WMD threat

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London, July 13 (ANI): A former British diplomat Carne Ross, has told an inquiry into the Iraq war that the Tony Blair's government "intentionally and substantially" exaggerated assessments of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction culminating in highly misleading statements about the threat that amounted to lies.

According to The Telegraph, Ross, giving evidence before the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war, said that "nuanced" intelligence about the threat from Iraq was "massaged" into "more robust and terrifying" messages about Saddam's supposed WMD.

Ross, who served at the UN between 1997 and 2002, claimed that the British and American governments were fully aware that there was no "substantial threat" from Iraq ahead of the war.

"It remains my view that the internal Government assessment of Iraq's capabilities was intentionally and substantially exaggerated in public Government documents during 2002 and 2003," he said.

"Throughout my posting in New York, it was the UK and US assessment that while there were many unanswered questions about Iraq's WMD stocks and capabilities, we did not believe that these amounted to a substantial threat," he added.

He claimed they did not have any firm evidence from intelligence sources or otherwise of significant weapons holdings.

He further said it was a "disgrace" that ministers failed to exhaust all peaceful options before going to war against Iraq.

"There was no deliberate discussion of available alternatives to military action in advance of the 2003 invasion, there is no record of that discussion, no official has referred to it, no minister has talked about it, and that seems to me to be a very egregious absence in this history - that at some point a Government before going to war should stop and ask itself, 'are there available alternatives?" Ross asked.

Following the September 11 terrorist attacks on the US in 2001, he had said that the presentation of the intelligence relating to Iraq changed significantly.

The report said the claim in the "dodgy dossier" of September 2002, which implied that Saddam had the capacity to launch WMD within 45 minutes, had "no basis in firm intelligence".

"This process of exaggeration was gradual, and proceeded by accretion and editing from document to document, in a way that allowed those participating to convince themselves that they were not engaged in blatant dishonesty," Ross added. (ANI)

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