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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 April, 2003, 12:34 GMT 13:34 UK
Weapons doubters 'will eat words'

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has said that those who doubt Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction will have "to eat their words".

Tony Blair and Vladimir Putin
The role of the UN should be 'strengthened', says Putin

The comments, during prime minister's question time, came the day after Russian President Vladimir Putin joined the ranks of sceptics about whether the weapons existed.

Mr Blair's justification for the war with Iraq was to disarm Saddam Hussein's regime of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons of mass destruction

But despite the end of conflict in Iraq no concrete evidence that such weapons existed has yet come to light.

Conservative MP Peter Tapsell asked whether the prime minister would resign if no weapons of mass destruction were found.

I think that when we do so you and others will be eating some of your words
Tony Blair
On weapons doubters

Mr Blair replied: "I have refused to engage in all sorts of speculations and will refuse to engage in them now.

"I am absolutely convinced and confident about the case on weapons of mass destruction.

"To you, and others, who believe somehow that this was all a myth invented by us, I would refer them first of all to the 12 years of the United Nations reports detailing exactly what weapons of mass destruction were held by the then Iraqi regime."

He added: "We are now in a deliberative way and in a considered way investigating the various sites - and we will bring forward the analysis, the results of that investigation, in due course.

"I think that when we do so you and others will be eating some of your words."

Tony Blair and Vladimir Putin
Healing diplomatic wounds?

On Tuesday Mr Putin told reporters that now the war is over "the role of the UN should be not only restored but strengthened".

He argued that UN sanctions against Iraq should not be lifted until it was proved that the country did not possess weapons of mass destruction.

"Russia has always supported easing and even lifting the sanctions, but our partners in the UN Security Council believe that as long as the issue of weapons of mass destruction has not been clarified, the sanctions should be maintained, and we agree with this position," said Mr Putin.

Calling for the UN weapons inspectors to return to Iraq, Mr Putin appeared sceptical that the weapons could be found.

He said: "We do not know whether perhaps Saddam is still hiding somewhere underground in a bunker sitting on cases containing weapons of mass destruction, and is preparing for blowing the whole thing up and bringing down with him the lives of hundreds of thousands of people."

He stressed that the oil-for-food programme "must be supervised by the UN", given the "power vacuum in Iraq".

Tuesday's summit was part of efforts to heal diplomatic wounds but most commentators concluded it had not worked.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Andrew Marr
"Mr Putin appeared to mock those famous weapons of mass destruction"



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