[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 7 October, 2004, 15:18 GMT 16:18 UK
Blair under fire over Iraq report
Tony Blair, speaking in Sudan
Tony Blair made his comments during a trip to Africa
Tony Blair has come under fire after an official report found Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction.

The Iraq Survey Group found no evidence he had chemical, biological or nuclear weapons when Iraq was invaded.

The Liberal Democrats called on Mr Blair to make a Commons statement on the report. The Tories said it showed the prime minister had not been honest.

But Mr Blair highlighted its finding that Saddam hoped to revive a WMD programme once sanctions were lifted.

The Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy said the report had conclusively shown Saddam Hussein did not have any weapons of mass destruction and had no programmes to create them.

"It is now clear that we did not go to war as a last resort," he said.

"The prime minister must come to the House of Commons and make a full statement as a matter of urgency to explain why this country went to war on a false premise."

'Tragic'

Foreign affairs spokesman Menzies Campbell said the report showed the policy of containment had been working.

"Brick by brick, the government's case for going to war is being demolished."

There was no programme, no capability, no weapons
Former foreign secretary Robin Cook

Conservative leader Michael Howard said: "I don't think he [Mr Blair] told the truth about the intelligence he received."

But Mr Howard told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that he still felt the war was justified although it had been "tragic in very many ways".

Shadow foreign secretary Michael Ancram said Mr Blair should have "trusted the British people with the truth".

"Instead he misled the British people and in doing so he has lost the people's trust."

The UN's former chief weapons inspector Hans Blix told BBC2's Newsnight sanctions had successfully "contained" Saddam.

"They did destroy all the biological and chemical weapons and the nuclear weapons sector was also all cleared up.

I hope others have the honesty to accept that the report also shows that sanctions weren't working
Tony Blair
UK prime minister

"Had we had a few months more we would have been able to tell the CIA and others that there were no weapons of mass destruction."

But US President George Bush had been "desperate" to be able to say there were WMD, Dr Blix added.

Former foreign secretary Robin Cook said the report showed the war was a "tragic mistake"

"There were no stockpiles. There were also no programmes. The report is quite frank about that.

"There were no chemical precursors, there were no biological agents, there were no plants to make them, there were no delivery vehicles to fire them. There was no programme, no capability, no weapons.

"We could have found all that out if we had let Hans Blix finish the job which he wanted to do without fighting a war in which 10,000 people were killed."

'Complicated'

The prime minister reacted defiantly to the report's findings, saying the report showed Saddam "never had any intention of complying with UN resolutions".

He was "doing his best" to get round the UN's sanctions, Mr Blair added.

Speaking during a trip to Ethiopia Tony Blair said he welcomed the report because it showed "a far more complicated situation than many people thought".

He added: "And just as I have had to accept that the evidence now is that there were not stockpiles of actual weapons ready to be deployed, I hope others have the honesty to accept that the report also shows that sanctions weren't working."

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the report showed Saddam posed a bigger threat than previously imagined.

Tony Blair
Tony Blair made his comments during a trip to Africa

"The threat from Saddam Hussein in terms of his intentions" was "even starker than we have seen before", Mr Straw added.

"Had we walked away from Iraq and left Iraq to Saddam, Saddam would have indeed built up his capabilities, built up his strength and posed an even greater threat."

Britain's human rights envoy to Iraq, Ann Clwyd MP, said the report showed the UN Oil-For-Food Programme and the sanctions regime had been "corrupted beyond repair".

"Those people who said, and still say, that sanctions were working must now recognise that sanctions and the policy of containment ... had broken down long ago."

Former cabinet minister Jack Cunningham said the "profound failures" of intelligence exposed by the report did not just occur in Britain but across the international community.

The report showed Saddam Hussein was ignoring and undermining UN sanctions and that, had he been able, he would have sought to reconstitute his weapons programmes.

But anti-war Labour MP Alice Mahon said: "The Iraq Survey Group tried very hard to do their masters' bidding. But there was not a scrap of evidence for them to go on.

"Saddam was no threat whatsoever to the outside world."


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
What the findings of the survey group mean



RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific