Policy paper

Iraqi weapons of mass destruction - intelligence and assessments

This document contains the following information: Iraqi weapons of mass destruction - intelligence and assessments.


Iraqi weapons of mass destruction - intelligence and assessments

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This document contains the following information: Iraqi weapons of mass destruction - intelligence and assessments.

The report examines whether the available intelligence that informed the decision to invade Iraq was adequate and properly assessed, and whether it was accurately reflected in Government publications. The report covers several topics. (1) Assessments between 1990 and September 2002. The Committee accepts that there was convincing evidence that Iraq had active chemical, biological and nuclear programmes after 1990, all prohibited by United Nations Security Council resolutions, but there was no firm intelligence about the exact nature and extent of any weapons. The Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) assessment of 9 September 2002 is viewed as a balanced assessment of scenarios, but it does not highlight in the key judgements the uncertainties and gaps in the UK’s knowledge about the chemical and biological weapons (CBW). (2) The 24 September 2002 dossier. The Committee has examined the drafts of the dossier. It finds that the final draft was toned down from an earlier one, that the JIC had not been subjected to political pressures, and that the dossier was not ‘sexed-up’ by Alastair Campbell or anyone else. Text highlighting that Saddam was not considered a current or imminent threat to the UK mainland was not, the Committee regrets, included in the published document, nor was there a sufficiently balanced view of Saddam’s chemical and biological capacity. The claim that WMDs could be ready for use in 45 minutes was not placed in context, and it should have been explained that this referred to battlefield chemical and biological munitions and their movement on the battlefield. The concerns about the dossier raised by some members of the Defence Intelligence Service were not communicated to the chairman of the JIC or the Defence Secretary: the Committee recommends that this should happen in future. (3) Assessments October 2002 to March 2003. Assessments whilst the UN inspectors were in Iraq were that Saddam was continuing to retain and conceal Iraq’s proscribed weapons programmes, and that he would use CBW if attacked. The presence of the inspectors would have inhibited the programmes to some extent, but this was not reflected in the assessments, nor in the February 2003 dossier. (4) The February 2003 dossier. This was designed to present further evidence of Iraqi concealment, but as it contained information that was not assessed by the intelligence agencies, including an unattrributed research article, it attracted publicity that detracted from the purpose of the dossier. (5) Annexes. The report also contains two annexes: a briefing note on the influence of the Iraqi intelligence and security services; and the Committee’s comments on the Foreign Affairs Committee report (HCP 813-I, session 2002-02, ISBN 0215011627).

This Command Paper was laid before Parliament by a Government Minister by Command of Her Majesty. Command Papers are considered by the Government to be of interest to Parliament but are not required to be presented by legislation.

Published 11 September 2003