Former UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix has said Britain and the US dramatised intelligence information to bolster the argument for the Iraq war.
He told the BBC those who drafted the UK's Iraqi arms dossier acted like salesmen trying to "exaggerate the importance" of their wares, but said he did not think Tony Blair acted in "bad faith".
His comments came days after Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon faced tough questions from MPs on the events that led up to war in Iraq.
He confirmed he did not discuss the details of the "45 minute" claim with the Prime Minister in the run up to invasion of Iraq.
The claim referred only to battlefield weapons - not long-range missiles - being capable of hitting the UK or UK interests such as military bases on Cyprus.
What did the 45 minute claim mean to you? What are your views? Send us your comments.
This debate has bow closed. Thank you for your comments.
I supported the war in Iraq as I felt Saddam's regime had to be ousted. Freedom is a God given right and the Iraqi people under Saddam didn't even have a fraction of the freedom that we in the west sometimes take for granted. Handing the Iraqi people their freedom was a good enough reason to go to war with or without the threat of weapons of mass destruction.
Angelica Sutton, Kent, UK
I was somewhat sceptical about the war until I heard the 45 minute claim. I was shocked at this and immediately (somewhat naively) shifted my views and began to support the invasion of Iraq. Now that it has emerged that Tony Blair didn't realise this 45 minutes referred to "battlefield weapons" is simply absurd and shows in my view a lack of concern for human lives that have been lost during the war.
Tom Guise, South-East London
Like a lot of people, I felt the war on Iraq was overdue and inevitable. The questions I think Mr Hoon should be answering revolve around why the Army we sent over there was so poorly equipped for the job it had to do?
Iain Howe, Amsterdam, Netherlands
The claim is irrelevant. It seems to me that all these individual issues; who killed Dr Kelly; where did 45 minute claim come from; why didn't the troops have their kits, etc., are only distractions from the question people should be asking. Did, or did not, the Prime Minister hijack the trust of the British public to support what he believed to be an inevitable decision to go to war by the Americans?
David, Vicenza, Italy
I, like the vast majority of people, never read the dossier, nor did my eventual support for the war, rely on the 45 minute claim. I was swung by the Labour MP Anne Clwyd and her moving real life experiences told to her, of the mass killing under the Saddam regime.
N Pottage, York, UK
The world is indeed a better place for being rid of Saddam, however the means for removing him were, in my view, far from necessary. The point is that the UK, went against the UN's decision and I believe that has left us in a delicate position within Europe. When will people learn that war solves nothing and makes you no better than the person you are trying to remove. And don't even get me started on the Guantanamo Bay detention camps!
Scott, Southampton, UK
Whether or not the claim referred to battlefield weapons only or otherwise is irrelevant. The fact is I followed the statements at the time very closely and I came out with the impression that the claim referred to weapons that could affect Britain and America directly - as did many other people. In my view we were misled.
Robin Haswell, Wetherby
Now its being said that WMD or not, the world is a better place with Saddam out of power as he was a brutal dictator. Well, WMD was the main reason cited for the war and the "45-minute" claim was used to emphasise the urgency. If ridding Iraq of Saddam was the motive then what was the need for such urgent action? It could have been sorted out through political dialogue and war should have been the last resort.
Himanshu Saini, India
I understood the "45 claim" to mean Saddam was capable of using his WMD against distant targets, e.g. UK, Cyprus, Israel, within that time span. At no time did HMG suggest the 45 minutes related to battlefield weapons.
Sid Perkins, Dover, England
45 Minutes is about the length of time Tony Blair took considering going to war.
Surely any inquiry should be into whether Britain should automatically cosy up to the USA by default.
We have done for years, and continuing this policy forced Blair into coming up with some excuse - any excuse - for taking us into a conflict long-before planned by Bush.
The 45 minutes business is just a distraction from the legitimate debate we should be having.
It is obvious to anyone with a brain that this did not refer to a launch against the UK mainland - in the war with Kuwait they could barely reach Israel and that was before a huge pounding. Basically the report mentioned 45 minutes in relation to battlefield weapons and Hoon and TB allowed this to be misrepresented as a time to attach the UK. It's not a lie as such but it is far beneath the behaviour we expect from our government!
Julian, Reading, England
To me, the "45 minute" claim made the WMD threat current and serious, thus justifying war. Now it's just an annoying distraction which stops debate about the real motivation behind Britain's support for the American war.
If we need to prove the existence of WMD, why don't we simply show them our receipts!
Dave Cooke, Nottingham, UK
The 45 minute claim always seemed like an exaggeration to me. However, the government certainly put forward the point that Iraq had dangerous weapons of mass destruction (45 mins or no 45 mins) which were the reason for going to war, along with the US. It looks as if both the 45 mins and the WMD are in question now.
With recent events unfolding, it feels like we are living in a parallel world where the incredulous is the norm.
Joe Watson, Brighton, England
Listening to the PM's speech in Parliament that day it all sounded scary with only 45 mins to go. But post-war, it was made out that Saddam was the real WMD! Even gas masks were all sold out in London the following day! People have to come to their own conclusions. No choice, is there?
If all posters on this forum believed that that the 45 mins claim applied to direct attacks on the UK, why were you not out building shelters and stripping the supermarket shelves bare? Reason; you didn't believe that, but now all of you should do. Seems that the Anti War Brigade were indulging in political opportunism.
James C, Birmingham UK
The point is that Saddam was preparing 'weapons of mass destruction'. To qualify to be a WMD, why does a weapon have to travel a large distance? A nuclear bomb in a suitcase cannot be deployed a long distance, but we would still be very worried about it.
Ian Geraghty-Bellingham, Brighton
45 minutes or not? Battlefield nukes or ballistic missiles fitted with nerve gas warheads? Able to target Bexhill-on-Sea or only hit the Red Sea? It's all irrelevant. The real problem with the intelligence was that it was so difficult to obtain reliable estimates of the arsenals held by Iraq. This is 100% the fault of Saddam Hussein. If he had complied with UN resolutions calling on him to disarm and allowing that disarmament to be verified by international observers, there would have been no doubt. The very fact that he refused to do so and tried to maintain his image as a strong and defiant leader has led to his downfall.
Matthew, London, UK
Stop arguing about the why's and wherefores. The result was right.
B Barker, Suffolk, England
The 45 minute claim meant to me that Saddam Hussein had inter-continental weapons able to strike at bases as far a field as Cyprus.
Roy Porter, Woodford Green Essex
The 45 minutes meant that Iraq could deploy WMD within this time and this could have been short range Battlefield, medium range missiles, or long range aircraft or suicide bombers. The means of delivery did not matter, the potential ability and past use did. Who would have thought Bin Laden would have missiles that could reach mainland USA, nobody! But he did.
Neil, Bournemouth UK
If battlefield WMD were such a serious issue why were our troops so ill equipped against them when they were sent out to the gulf? Our troops faced enormous losses, and yet nobody is prepared to take responsibility for this either.
Do battlefield weapons include medium range missiles..? Probably not. Consequently, we must conclude that threats to British nationals in neighbouring countries are not included under this heading and that it will have mislead people as to what the threat was.
Frank, Dorking, Surrey
I never thought Iraq had the capability to reach any significant long range target and thought the government were naive.
rob, Sheffield, UK
The 45 minute claim is a side issue. It is merely one aspect of the sexing up of the government's case for war, which was founded on highly selective use of intelligence - giving a wide airing to anything supporting the case for war and ignoring anything stating that there was no immediate threat. Whether or not there was a case for war is a matter of individual opinion - the problem with the government is that they gave the public a sales pitch on why war was necessary and not a balanced view.
Blair was very specific about the 45 minutes when he spoke out in the commons. I heard it clearly, so did millions of others. He knew what he was saying and should resign now along with Hoon.
Maybe I'm a fool, but I thought weapons that could be launched '45 mins' and the constant rhetoric about 'Weapons of Mass Destruction' made me think these arms could hit me in my home. Blair/Hoon are passing the buck and suffering for their art of spinning, it serves them right. The war was a unnecessary loss of life for the soldiers and Iraqi civilians, they should hang their inflated heads with shame and resign.
I'd always assumed that the 45 minute claim was most likely to apply to battle-field weapons rather than long range devices, given that a Battle-field weapon is likely to be prepared and launched much more quickly.
My interpretation was that Iraq had the capability to launch WMD (not battlefield weapons), beyond the range allowed, within 45 minutes. The government have been very cute at manipulating the media to tell the 'hyped' story, but not actually saying so itself.
Neal Taylor, London, England
It is clear that the 45 minute warning was intended to scare us into believing that Saddam Hussein could launch a chemical warhead on a ballistic missile. As such we have been grievously misled. Those responsible for the publication of the dossier should take proper responsibility and act with honour, or is honour in politics now dead?
Marten, High Wycombe
Remember, Tony Blair assured us that there was an URGENT threat to the country caused by the WMD in Iraq. The threat was so urgent that we had to ignore the UN and act immediately. The 45 minute claim was one of many pieces of evidence put forward to justify the need for urgent action, there were plenty of other claims which have turned out to be unfounded. Being able to employ battlefield weapons in 45 minutes is hardly cause for urgent action. Why did the country have to take such URGENT action??
John W, UK
Anyone who thought that the 45 minute claim meant that London or the UK mainland was at thread obviously is as misguided as one of Saddam's WMD-laden Scud missiles. Really...No wonder the whole Iraq debate has dropped into the gutter with these people around! I truly despair...
Why are you banging on about "45-minutes"? There were no WMD to fire, in 45-minutes, hours or even days. To me the 45-minute claim was a way of the Government emphasising how extensive their "intelligence" was. "Not only do we KNOW he has WMD, we also KNOW he can launch them in 45 minutes." Garbage in its purest form.
When I read about the 45 minutes I assumed that Iraq had the potential of launching weapons on its neighbours within that time, its clear that this was misleading and for Geoff Hoon not to have told Tony Blair seems a bit naive to say the least. Geoff Hoon should now do the decent thing and resign, have some thought for the soldiers who will not come back form Iraq.
David Evans, London. England
I can assume that most army's can have they're basic battlefield weapons ready in 45 minutes when there country is a potential war situation. So when the prime minister made a statement in the commons about a 45 minute threat from Iraq of course I assumed he was talking about WMD.
Mala Shah, Shipley, UK
I supported the Government on the basis that the 45 minute claim meant that we were in dire threat of a WMD attack here - with the backdrop of 9/11. I cannot see how any other interpretation could be made. Surely any Government should be called to account for the way in which a case for war is presented - and I applaud the Lib Dems for standing on this principle and not being part of yet another whitewash!
David Holder, Wokingham, Berks
The 45 minute claim was apparently only mentioned twice in something like 6000 questions asked or submitted in parliament, which suggests to me it wasn't really a part of the decision process
Chris, Hampshire, UK
If Saddam Hussein was no real threat to anyone, as now seems certain, why do people think we are in a better and safer world? It's like that kids game of pretending to push you over but grabbing hold of you and shouting "I saved you".
Malcolm, Wirral, UK
I find it appalling that this government does not feel that it should do the honourable thing in this matter. BBC heads rolled because of their 'errors' over the 45 minute claim. How on earth can Mr Blair and Mr Hoon stay in power after the latest comments by the P.M? His admission re the 45 minute claim means that either Messrs Blair and Hoon are incompetent or they deliberately misled the public.
Patrick Hawkins, Copenhagen, Denmark
In this case the 45 minute claim would have only been relevant if you were in country or very close to the border; surely then not a treat to anyone outside Iraq really. It also worries me that if the PM did not know to what the 45 minute claim to be about when he made this huge decision for people to die, what else did he not know or was not informed about? Also the question "what's all this [in the dossier] about 45 minutes?" might have been a prudent question for the PM prior to its publishing?
I absolutely agree with the robust line of questioning being put to our politicians, I supported the government's position BECAUSE I thought that the threat was explicitly spelled out i.e. 45 minutes in my mind meant missile attack with WMDs'. If I had been told that the reason for war was to rid the world of a brutal dangerous dictator I might well have supported it.... but I was never given that as the PRIME reason, I and many other 'ordinary' people feel deceived!
Dr Mike Carter, Bath, Somerset
I smell another smoke screen building. Are we now going to get embroiled in the minutiae of single words and short phrases? Whether the Iraq had WMD or not did not matter, it would have needed the will to use them. Saddam may well have been a tyrant. He may have used WMD against his own people a long time ago. He thumbed his nose at the West, but I cannot believe he would have used them, if he had had them. I accept that the end may justify the means. But where else does that defence stand up?
John Schofield, York, England
It meant that Saddam could fire a rocket and hit my mum's house in London. The rocket could be fired within 45 minutes of the order to fire being given. I am an ordinary member of the public who listens to the news on TV and that is what I understood.
I thought the "45 minute" claim pertained to the tactical weapons that didn't exist. I had no idea that it was the imagined battlefield weapons that were the subject of the claim. I'm glad things are clearer now.
The removal of Saddam was the right thing to do. Even if for the wrong reasons, it was STILL the right thing to do. End of story.
Richard, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Manchester City can do more damage in 45 minutes than Saddam!
I have had enough of this. We have had an independent inquiry and regardless of whether we like the findings, it's time to move on.
This is an amazing admission, but doesn't change my support for the decision to go to war. That Saddam's regime had the potential, motive and possible intent to supply WMD raw materials, technology or expertise to terrorists was the crucial issue.
I supported the war because I was under the impression that Saddam had WMDs that could be launched at 45 minutes notice. He couldn't and he didn't. Battlefield weapons are NOT weapons of mass destruction.
Paul, Gloucester, England
The only people who made so much noise about the 45 minutes was the media. I really don't care what the 45 minutes meant. What I am certain about is that we are in a far better world than when Saddam was in power.
Cynthia Addo, London
Don't get hung up on the 45 minutes. The whole thing is a sorry state of poor judgement. Where are the weapons? What range do they have? Could they be a threat to the UK?
Phil Duff, Milton Keynes
The fact is that Tony Blair took us to war, with the consequent deaths of many ordinary people, on the basis that Iraq was a threat to the UK. It now seems that the threat did not exist and therefore the war was not justified. As I recall we rushed into war because of this threat whereas the rest of Europe could see no immediate justification for such action. If Tony Blair has any sense of honour he should resign. I say this with sadness because up until the war I thought the Prime Minister was doing a reasonably good job.
Chris, Birmingham, UK
It meant that it would take just 45 minutes to assemble and fire a weapon which would have the capability of destroying many lives.
Trevor Smith, Oswestry, Shropshire
We now seem to live in a society where the facts are considerably less important than opinion.
Hutton based his report on facts, all the other inquiries are based on facts; but the BBC, the conservatives and a great deal of British people now believe that the facts are irrelevant and whatever happens, Blair, Hoon et al, are guilty, they just need to find the crime.
John Pearce, Bolton, UK
I don't read the London Evening Standard or the Sun, so the first I knew of the 45 min claim was after the war was over. This claim did not feature in Blair's speech to the Commons in the decision to go to War debate and focusing on it now is a clear distortion of events at the time and is rooted in certain parts of the media clamouring for the PM's head.
Dr Kay's recent comments confirmed that Iraq was in clear breach of UN Res 1441, the main pre-text for war - end of story. Since when have the facts had a bearing on what the media thinks is "news".
John Henderson, London, UK
So, Hoon & Blair can catch a 6.07 am Radio4 broadcast, but fail to notice headlines in The Sun, The Evening Standard... really?
Ben , London, UK
I do not believe the delivery system of the weapons makes any difference. If a tactical nuclear weapon is launched in a battlefield it does not make it any less of a WMD. As for the complaints that Tony Blair should resign because he did not ask the right questions, I didn't hear Michael Howard, IDS or Charles Kennedy ask it themselves.
If Mr Blair was not aware of the nature of the weapons that were, or were not, a threat to us, or our troops in the event of war, then on what basis did he take the country to war? He maintains that Saddam Hussein's apparatus was an active threat to our security, but simply holding a point of view that military action was the only response to that wicked despot is not justification for the potential deaths that would, and have, obviously occurred. He is, after all, responsible for not only the appointment of the individuals who gather intelligence and advise on these issues, but also for the ultimate decision, on behalf of the state, to go to war. If intending to develop and/or proliferate WMD is enough to feel the full weight of American and British military might, why are we not engaged in multiple conflicts with equally wicked regimes around the world?
Steven Oliver, Hove, UK
Doesn't the lack of understanding of the 45 minute
claim represent a failure of the media, as much
as the government? Since most people have not read
the infamous dossier, but have relied rather on
the distillations of the media to inform them,
shouldn't we be asking why the media did not search
for clarification? Possibly because it doesn't make good headlines or sound bites. The whole Iraq affair has been a media muddle from the start, with the legal arguments for and against the war being completely muddled up with the (im)moral arguments, and
the effects of political necessity. Was it legal?
Was it moral? Was it necessary? I know many people who
know nothing about international law who think they
know the answer to the first. I just wish somebody
had had the guts to try and get a few legal experts
together to present both sides of the legal argument
clearly, because I don't claim to have a clue.
As well as being more informative, such considerations
in the main stream media could also lead to great
entertainment... which is the main goal of
the news these days isn't it?
Why don't people actually read the information for themselves? It's all available online. Go to the dossier, and read what the government said. There, you will find what 'weapons of mass destruction' means, and the full context of 45 minute claim. You may dislike this government, and disagree with the war, but the (for some, unpalatable) fact is that the 45 minute claim was thought to be accurate; and that the intelligence services and government (and Dr David Kelly) genuinely thought that Iraq was concealing weapons of mass destruction and the means to make them. If you rely just on tabloids for your information, then perhaps you deserve to misunderstand.
Jonathan, Manchester UK
My word what a short memory your interviewers seem to possess in regards to Saddams evil regime! It was only a little over a decade ago that he tried to create a supergun as a weapon of mass destruction. The evil will was certainly there, however, his economic capacity to continue with his WMD would not have stopped this megalomaniac. He would have used any poor willing soul to attack nations and peoples with chemical warfare and what about the poor Kurds? In the Gulf war there were women dying on mountainsides whilst giving birth. What a way to die. Please get a perspective from the comfort of your British Armchairs - Saddam was unstoppable
Anita, Darlington UK
It doesn't really matter what comes out of the investigation or questioning - the UK public is too impassive to do anything to stop Mr Blair remaining Prime Minister. So if he doesn't resign he will be the next Prime Minister - we can actually skip the election.
I'm with Tony Blair on this one; I didn't know that 45 mins referred to battlefield weapons. But I did believe before the war that Bush wanted one and Blair did too, and then made up the reasons. I won't vote labour until Blair and all this present government have left office.
Aiden Grimes, London
For 10 years before this invasion terrible economic sanctions were in place on Iraq, and every single day UK and US planes were flying, spying on, and blowing up anything suspicious in Iraq. The UK and US politicians knew the exact status of the situation there and this is why the dossiers and the mendacity of these politicians are as shoddy as they are.
As ever is the case, the Government merely presented the facts in a way that suited its agenda. It got its way and we went to war. Why should anyone be at all surprised? It was plain at the time that we were being led down this path and some of us objected - in vain as it turns out.
Such claims resulted in wide-spread fears of Iraqi attacks, maybe more so here than in rest of Europe. It also seemed to heavily justify the eagerness to go to war.
Maria Lafiri, Corfu, Greece
Forget the 45 minute claim, if the existence of WMD in Iraq is the basis and justification for starting a war in Iraq, then Blair and or the senior staff should all resign as that has clearly been born out as a false claim.
Perhaps we should be asking the Prime Minister what he thought, and now thinks, the definition of WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) is?
Paul Ebbens, East Dereham, Norfolk
I think the government has to realise there is a bit of a difference between a rocket propelled grenade and a ballistic missile. In addition Mr Hoon today said the PM was privy to the same information as he - implying that the PM knew all along about the accuracy of the WMD threat.
Of course you can use WMD on a battlefield - what do you think chemical weapons have historically been used for? THAT is the key issue on the 45 minute claim. I believed it meant any opposition troops would be under direct threat.
Nigel Cubbage, Redhill, UK
How could anybody have thought that it referred to an attack on the UK? How was Saddam supposed to deliver the WMD...by FedEx?
Carl, London, UK
How many people here actually read the dossier? People should read the real facts rather than the cut down media versions.
Of course WMDs implied nuclear capability. These days, the government is including the definition to include Ricin and anthrax. By that definition, the castor beans growing in my back garden are grounds for the US to invade my potato patch and bomb my greenhouse.
The point of why we went to war should not be an issue - only the fact that we defeated a tyrant who persecuted his own people. Would Michael Howard and Charles Kennedy have wanted to live under his rule? They should stop making political gain from the Iraqis tragedy of the past
Dennis Hall, Stratford upon Avon
Mr Blair is an intelligent man who should have been very careful in how he understood and explained the evidence. When will he stop trying to put the blame on others and take the responsibility himself? The Hutton inquiry was a white wash so why will the new one be any different?
Ian Cullup-Smith, Oswestry Shropshire
Alistair Campbell sent letter after after letter to the BBC insisting that they set the record straight. Where were the letters to the Sun and other newspapers asking them to set the record straight on the 45 minute claim?
A M Ginsberg, Potters Bar
Well, the lesson to be learned from this is that from now on we should thoroughly question every statement government makes on any issue that concerns us. That's democracy as well.
Ed Karten, London, England
What ever your opinion regarding the rights and wrongs of going to war - the fact remains that it needs to be done LEGALLY. Pre-emptive strike is illegal unless you are under IMMEDIATE threat of attack. Voila, stick in a 45 minute claim and we all escape the Hague.
Helen, Bristol UK
I was amused that Mr Hoon said that it was difficult to get the media to correct inaccuracies. It seems the government is quite happy for the papers to print untrue claims that may have encouraged support for the war, but are a little keener to interfere when the reports of the BBC aren't to their liking!
Jessica Tye, Bristol
If Iraq had been able to deliver anything so much as a Christmas card to the UK on the end of a missile, we would have been at war long before we were. Yes, the notion was vague (did they mean that Kuwait could be hit? Or Israel?). But to presume the Government meant that WMD could actually hit the UK mainland is naive in the extreme.
The misinterpretation of the 45 min issue was instrumental in the Government's plans to gain support for its military intervention. It was their intention to make Joe Bloggs fear for their lives.
Does this mean that The Sun, which we are now made to believe "over-egged" the threat, will see the same degree of resignations as The BBC have had to endure over the past few days? Or are things different when it comes to Blair's favourite newspaper?
Weapons of Mass Destruction mean just that - Mass Destruction. Used on the masses, not on the battlefield. There is no such thing as a battlefield WMD.
I understood it to mean that Saddam Hussein on ordering a nuclear strike, Iraq could arm a nuclear weapon and have it ready to strike, within 45 minutes. It is a very serious claim because it quantifies the "threat" which makes it seem even more real. If it was not true (and that was known), then quantifying the threat was made with the intention to mislead. It is as simple as that!!
Khaled, Harlesden, London
How bad can the politics in this country get? After the backlash to Hutton why did the Tories sign up to this flawed enquiry? This has been a clear opportunity to send Blair out to pasture. Well done the Lib Dems for taking a principled stance.
Derek, Manchester, UK
The 45 minute claim is completely irrelevant. Are you telling me people who had been strongly opposed to war heard the claim and completely changed their views? There were a number of great reasons to go to war with Saddam, the 45 minute claim was not one of them.
Geoff, London UK
At no point in the dossier, does it claim that the UK or mainland Europe could be hit by a WMD. Instead, the dossier vaguely states that Iraq does possess WMD which could be deployed at 45 minutes notice. Elsewhere, the dossier also states that Iraq was trying to develop a longer range version of the ineffective, short-range SCUD. The UK tabloids then, using poetic license, connected the two statements and a myth, that the UK Government did not try to correct, was born. Also, there is only one true WMD, and that is a nuclear device - again, the Government was vague on this issue, and did not prevent the hysteria being spouted in the tabloids about London being nuked, etc.
Lee, Hebburn, England
At the time, I read about the 45 minute claim in disbelief at the audacity that the government could come up with such an assertion. And then I was appalled that many people were taking it as a reason for war, including MPs. At no time did I get the feeling that it referred only to battlefield weapons. If Mr Hoon is now saying that everybody realised at the time that the 45 minutes only referred to battlefield weapons then I need to check in with a psychiatrist because I must have a severe case of false memory syndrome.
Andie, Tansley, UK
It means a lot to the BBC judging by all the commentary from John Humphreys et al on the today program this morning! You are now flogging a dead horse on this one, your news service has quite rightly been trashed by Hutton. When can we expect Marsh and Sambrook to be sacked? That's the real question.
Terence H Coleman, Thornton Heath, Surrey
The 45-minute claim meant to me that my life could be in danger within 45 minutes here in the UK from nuclear, biological and chemical weapons allegedly possessed by Saddam Hussein. Something that we now know is completely untrue.
It was always clear to me that the 45 minute claim referred to short-range weapons (although with the possibility of reaching British bases in Cyprus). At no point did I feel there was an implication that the mainland UK was under threat from such weapons. I don't believe that the government misled us on this issue just that some people didn't understand what was being said (in some cases possibly due to media spin). Perhaps a lesson for the government is to ensure that it's statements are totally clear and not subject to mis-representation.
My MP was quite categoric in a meeting with anti war campaigners that British citizens and troops were within 45 minutes of immediate danger from WMD - this despite the fact that we told her she was talking rubbish. So some at least of the Labour MPs who voted for war believed it.
Look, I don't wish to be insulting here, but anyone who believes the claim Iraq could hit Britain with missiles is clearly barking. What Saddam could do however was hit Israel with standard Scud missiles. If he, or whichever psychotic son succeeded him, launched an attack with these missiles equipped with chemical or biological warheads, Israel would have had to reply with the only it option it had; a nuclear strike against Iraq. The consequences of that don't bear thinking about
A Weapon of Mass Destruction needs to be capable of wreaking "mass" destruction. The US & UK eschew the use of WMD, so "our" cluster bombs can't have been WMD, can they? Therefore Iraq's WMD must have been capable of doing more damage than a cluster bomb. That, in my opinion took them out of the battlefield. So the 45-minute claim meant "delivering a weapon onto civilian targets, causing hundreds or thousands of deaths within 45 minutes of issuing the order to prepare to do so"
it, to me, meant that there was a "clear and present threat" from WMD, ready to be deployed in 45 mins. There was no indication to us, the public, that this claim referred to battlefield and not strategic weapons. It looks to me like Blair realises that the public are not satisfied with the Hutton conclusions, and is about to offer G.Hoon as a sacrificial lamb, blaming him for not correctly communicating the relevant info.
Mike, Rome, Italy
As a voter I'm left feeling cheated. There's a great responsibility in sending a country into conflict. If they didn't realise the significance to public support between mortars and long range WMD's then they're negligent. As senior staff the responsibility lies with them, in the same way as with the recent BBC resignations. If Hoon and Blair still have their jobs by the end of the year, I'll be voting them out.
Alan D, Leighton, UK
Unfortunately, I know that most people never read the dossier, but instead read the hyped-up edited highlights the media reported. I never interpreted that the claim was about long range weapons. And the War wasn't either, I understand that might be most people's impression now, due to the constant repeating of "WMD" across the media (talk about narrow remit!!). As I understood it then and still now, it was really about compliance with the UN and stability of the Middle East.
Quite simply - that we were in immediate danger of weapons that could be launched within 45 minutes from bases in Iraq to strike a UK target some time later (after that 45 minutes, of course). Hence the need for a pre-emptive strike. There was no ambiguity. Blair said: we have to go to war. Now.
If the intelligence was not there to support it, Blair is guilty of war crimes and should be tried accordingly. If it was, but it was faked, then someone else has the blood of innocent Iraqis on their hands. If it was genuinely wrong, Britain must apologise to Iraq and to Saddam Hussein.
Dave, Reading, England
Although I didn't ever believe the Government's claim of 45mins, many people did and I find it deplorable that Hoon didn't consider it a important and that the Prime Minister was not informed. Hoon should resign immediately.
Jon, Richmond, Surrey
I think we were intended to believe that the 45 minute claim related to weapons of a range that could at least hit Iraq's neighbours, which is why Saddam was constantly billed as a threat to them. As for what can be fired and where in 45 minutes, it is hardly remarkable that field artillery as it turned out to be, can be deployed in that time. I reckon anybody with "mortar capabilities" could fire one quicker than that.
John Keegans, Nottingham, UK
I think the 45 minute claim was meant to be the launch time for battlefield weapons. Saddam Hussein was developing long-range missiles in the early 90's that if allowed to continue could have reached as far as Italy. This research may well have continued secretly. To launch a missile against Britain would require a defence budget similar to the US, Russia or China, something clearly beyond Iraq, and anyone who believes such claims, which the government never made is clearly reading the wrong newspapers.
Paul, Luton, UK
Hutton concluded that the language used in the dossier could possibly have been stronger than was required - one could interpret this as sexed up. For Blair and Hoon, they know nothing about the 45 minute claim; intelligence officials say their information was misunderstood. Why do we have a Prime Minister who used a sexed-up student thesis, and who went to war clearly without knowing why?
Andi, Belfast, UK
Surely, if the British government were stupid enough to believe the UK could have been hit by WMD from Iraq, exactly how stupid does that make the American government?
John Bishop, Cotham, UK
To suggest the media are simply trying "to find something to discredit the Government following Hutton's report" is a disgraceful suggestion. Blair and his ministers may feel they should not be subject to scrutiny, but in this nation it is our duty to scrutinise our supposed representatives. I question the political agenda of people who make such disingenuous comments.
Tony, Farnborough, UK
The 45 minute claim was always laughable to me. It was obviously put in to scare people. If we're worried about people launching WMD attacks (whether tactical or strategic), does it matter if it's 45 minutes or 4 hours or even 24 hours. Either way, you couldn't do anything about it. So, by using such a quick time, the objective was clearly to shock and scare people.
Tony Blair should resign NOW. Others have resigned for far less. I'm concerned that he will never do the decent thing, and someone will eventually have to forcibly remove him from his post.
Helen, Exeter, UK
Why is the topic of the war itself never brought into context? The dossier(s) are not the issue - the loss of life in the name of a free Iraq was the reason for war.
Christine, East Sheen UK
A rocket-propelled grenade filled with a gas or nerve agent is hardly a weapon of 'mass destruction'. If Blair didn't realise Saddam couldn't hit UK bases, then he's thicker than he looks. Saddam voluntarily gave up the longer-range missiles, which, if I recall rightly, weren't even capable of hitting Cyprus. And Blair believed we could be hit in 45 minutes?.
Matt W, Reading, UK
I didn't believe it and frankly if it was true then surely Hans Blix would have been able to find them. I don't believe however that the prime minister was unaware about the nature of the weapons, it seems like he stitched Hoon up badly.
Plain and simple - I was under the impression Saddam Hussein could deploy WMD towards the UK with a lead time of 45 minutes. There was no indication (at least in the media reports that I read/watched) that the capability was limited to battlefield deployment and not towards the UK.
VJ, London, UK
I took this to mean to be able to prepare weapons of mass destruction ready for use within 45 minutes of any given time, regardless of their range. Whilst I assumed this was more likely short range and the war was about protecting people in and around Iraq, including Kurds and citizens of the UN and NATO.
Tony Kenny, Barrow, UK
Did any one seriously believe that Saddam could launch an attack at us in 45 minutes? From the outset I assumed it meant battlefield weapons. Any intelligent person would. We went to war for a variety of reasons; the 45-Minute claim was not one of them. It is time the BBC moved on from trying to validate Gilligan.
Barry Lowry, Hornchurch Essex, UK
Ministers making decisions have a duty to ensure they fully understand the information on which their decision is based. And what greater decision is there than taking our country to war? If either Blair or Hoon thought the 45 minutes referred to long-range weapons, they should resign. It's their job to make sure they understand what is presented to them, and ask the right questions if they do not.
Mike Pearson, Southampton, UK
What it meant to me was that Iraq had WMDs. I don't think the majority of the British public were giving much thought to the various types of weapons or interpretation of the claim. It seems to me that the media are determined to find something to discredit the government following Hutton's report. Are we suggesting that had this claim not been made, we would not have decided to invade Iraq? In my recollection we invaded because Saddam wasn't cooperating fully with Weapons Inspectors. He's to blame for the invasion, not the intelligence staff that made the 45 min claim or the government for their interpretation of it.
Steven Smith, Bristol, UK
It always meant we would go to war and I along with many many others never believed one word of it because of the inspections that had ensued and the sanctions on the country leaving it virtually derelict and militarily helpless. This is so satisfying to hear. Roll on the revolution.
Derek, Exeter UK
I thought the 45 minute claim applied to Saddam's WMD. But then again, I didn't actually read the dossier, I'm just going off what the BBC told me. Now I wonder if the BBC was only "mostly right" in its reports on the dossier too?
It is obvious what the 45 minute threat meant. It meant Iraq was capable of delivering a massive hit on another country within 45 minutes. Pinocchio has nothing on Blair.
Stephen Cook, Borehamwood, England
To me it meant what the Government intended it to imply - that Iraq had nuclear missiles that it could launch with 45 mins notice. I (as one of many) foolishly trusted what we now know to be an utter lie!
To me, the 45-minute claim meant that Saddam had weapons capable of being lunched within 45 minutes to hit targets in Britain. I'm miffed Mr Hoon thought this information wasn't important until Mr Gilligan made his broadcast on the Today Programme. Isn't it TRULY time for Mr Hoon to resign?
Afe, London, England