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Last Updated: Sunday, 1 June, 2003, 10:36 GMT 11:36 UK
Blair 'certain over Iraq weapons'
Tony Blair and Clare Short
Bitter divisions remain over Iraq
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair says he has seen evidence, not yet available to the public, that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

In an interview with Sky News, he said he had "no doubt whatsoever" that Saddam Hussein had had nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.

There have been new claims over the legitimacy of a dossier on Iraq's weapons which had been made public before the conflict.

And former cabinet minister Clare Short told a Sunday newspaper Mr Blair had "duped" MPs and the public over his real reasons for going to war.

I have concluded that the PM decided to go to war in August sometime and he duped us all along
Former cabinet minister Clare Short

Ms Short, who resigned as international development secretary in the aftermath of the war, told the Sunday Telegraph: "He had decided for reasons that he alone knows to go to war over Iraq and to create this sense of urgency and drive it.

"The way the intelligence was spun was part of that drive."

Mr Blair, who is now in France for the G8 summit, said the results of interviews with Iraqi scientists and others had left him in no doubt on the weapons issue.

There were also investigations under way at "hundreds" of Iraq sites which were turning up more evidence, he said.

'Have patience'

Mr Blair said: "Over the coming weeks and months we will assemble this evidence and then we will give it to people.

"And I have no doubt whatever that the evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction will be there. Absolutely," he said.

"Those people who are sitting there saying: 'Oh, it's all going to be proved to be a great big fib got out by the security services, there will be no weapons of mass destruction' - just wait, and have a little patience."

HUNT ON FOR IRAQ'S WEAPONS
Weapons inspectors

Both the US and UK Governments have faced a wave of accusations in recent days that they embellished intelligence on the weapons issue to justify the controversial war.

US President George Bush expressed satisfaction on Sunday with the hunt for alleged weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, citing the discovery of suspected bio-labs and a banned weapons system.

However, a YouGov poll in the Mail of Sunday suggested 63% of voters believed Mr Blair misled the UK on the matter - although 50% still felt the war was justified.

Intelligence judgment

The Independent on Sunday quoted an unnamed intelligence source as saying the 45-minute claim came from a defector recruited by the Iraqi National Congress, which had been lobbying hard last year in favour of an invasion to topple Saddam.

WHAT DO THE PUBLIC THINK?
Blair misled public: 63%
Did not mislead public: 29%
War justified anyway: 50%
War not justified: 43%
Source: YouGov poll of 2,182 adults for Mail on Sunday

Mr Blair told Sky News all the information in the dossier had been cleared by the Joint Intelligence Committee "and was their judgment - not my judgment or another politician's judgment".

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told BBC One's Breakfast with Frost that the UK did not go to war on the basis of what weapons might be found after the conflict.

Instead, the decision was taken because there was "unquestionable" evidence about Iraq's banned weapons.

Mr Blair made his promise of more weapons evidence in Russia, where he joined celebrations for St Petersburg's 300th anniversary.

As he flew to the G8 summit at Evian in France, the prime minister urged the world to put aside disagreements about Iraq and work together on key issues like African poverty.

Mr Blair told reporters: "The question is how do we move forward from here, and is there a desire in the international community to heal divisions and move on and I think there is."

That call was echoed by European external relations commissioner Chris Patten, who appealed for a "generosity of spirit" to ensure the Iraq splits did not hinder efforts on boosting the world economy, Africa and Middle East peace.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Jo Coburn
"Tony Blair's diplomatic tour has been overshadowed by the row"



SEE ALSO:
Short accuses Blair of deception
01 Jun 03  |  Politics


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