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Wednesday, 12 January, 2005, 16:50 GMT
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Timeline: The hunt for Iraq's WMD
24 September, 2002
British government publishes dossier alleging detailed Iraqi programme to develop weapons of mass destruction.
The report included the claims that Iraq could deploy WMD within 45 minutes of an order to use them and had sought uranium used in nuclear weapons from Niger. Later on the day of publication Tony Blair told MPs that Saddam "is developing weapons of mass destruction and we cannot leave him doing so unchecked".
1 October, 2002
US National Intelligence Estimate report drawn up detailing perceived Iraqi threat.
The classified report from six intelligence agencies said "Saddam's personal interest in and Iraq's aggressive attempts" to obtain nuclear weapons materials "provide compelling evidence that Saddam is reconstituting a uranium enrichment effort for Baghdad's nuclear weapons programme". The report was made public in July 2003.
9 October, 2002
CIA chief George Tenet says Saddam may respond with chemical or biological weapons if he thinks USled strike is imminent.
8 November, 2002
UN Security Council passes resolution 1441 threatening serious consequences if Iraq does not give up WMD.
The same day US President George Bush said if Iraq failed to comply with resolution 1441 the US and other nations would disarm Saddam Hussein. "The outlaw regime will not be permitted to build or possess chemical biological or nuclear weapons."
18 November, 2002
UN weapon inspectors return to Iraq.
9 January, 2003
Hans Blix UN chief weapons inspector tells Security Council no smoking gun has been found in Iraq.
29 January, 2003
George Bush gives State of the Union speech saying Saddam is not disarming. To the contrary he is deceiving.
In one passage detailing Iraq's alleged WMD threat the president refers to the Niger claim contained in the UK's September dossier. Later it emerged the CIA had doubts about the claim which meant it should not have been used in George Bush's speech. The agency even warned the British of their concerns before the September dossier was published but London decided the intelligence was reliable.
5 February, 2003
US Secretary of State Colin Powell gives presentation to UN on Iraqi evasion and deception.
Colin Powell said "I cannot tell you everything I know but what I can share with you is deeply troubling." He went on to present tape recordings satellite photographs and intelligence data to illustrate what he said was Iraq's "active and systematic efforts" to hide its attempts to produce weapons of mass destruction.
14 February, 2003
Hans Blixs second report to the UN is more upbeat than the first but he says Iraq still has to do more to prove it has no WMD.
4 March, 2003
US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says he has no doubt Iraq has chemical and biological weapons.
20 March, 2003
After the UN fails to agree a second resolution war on Iraq begins with US missile strikes.
2 May, 2003
George Bush declares victory in war on Iraq.
4 May, 2003
George Bush says it is only a matter of time before US troops find banned weapons hidden in Iraq.
29 May, 2003
BBC broadcasts journalist Andrew Gilligans report on the governments September 2002 dossier.
Gilligan's report "ed a senior government source later identified as weapons scientist Dr David Kelly claiming the dossier had been transformed by 10 Downing Street against the wishes of the intelligence community. The news report fuelled weeks of intense media coverage of the WMD issue and after the suicide of Dr Kelly led to the establishment of the Hutton Inquiry.
2 June, 2003
Tony Blair says he stands 100 behind weapons claims and rejects calls for official inquiry.
3 June, 2003
Two US Senate committees launch inquiries into possible abuse of intelligence about alleged Iraqi WMD.
5 June, 2003
1400 American British and Australian military experts arrive in Iraq to form the Iraq Survey Group hunting for WMD.
6 June, 2003
Hans Blix criticises quality of intelligence given to his team by the US and UK in runup to war.
MI6 withdraws intelligence that helped support September 2002 dossier.
It later emerged Tony Blair did not know the intelligence had been withdrawn when he gave evidence to the Hutton Inquiry and only found out from the Butler Report in July 2004. Although the intelligence was received too late to be included in the dossier Lord Butler said it gave extra assurances to those drafting it.
7 July, 2003
Commons Foreign Affairs Committee report published.
The committee of MPs had looked into how ministers made the case for war in Iraq. They said some claims about Iraq's weapons were given too much weight by the government but cleared media chief Alastair Campbell of "sexing up" intelligence. They also decided ministers did not mislead parliament over the issue.
22 August, 2003
Exintelligence analyst tells Australian parliamentary inquiry the government exaggerated case for going to war in Iraq.
11 September, 2003
Commons Intelligence Committee report published.
The MPs effectively backed the government over the September 2002 dossier but said the jury was still out on its accuracy.
3 October, 2003
Iraq Survey Group interim report says it has drawn a blank in search for WMD.
The ISG said significant amounts of equipment and weaponsrelated activities had been discovered all of which were concealed from United Nations inspectors. It said it was too early to reach definitive conclusions and much work remained to be done.
11 January, 2004
Danish troops in Iraq find mortar shells thought to contain chemical agents but this is later disproved.
24 January, 2004
ISG chief David Kay resigns saying he does not believe Iraq had large stockpiles of chemical or biological weapons.
Mr Kay later said of the prewar intelligence "It turns out we were all wrong and that is most disturbing." He also suggested the White House may have ignored some aspects of intelligence on Iraq in the runup to the war.
28 January, 2004
Hutton report published. It says claims about UKs Iraq dossier reported by BBCs Andrew Gilligan were unfounded.
Lord Hutton's report into the suicide of David Kelly cleared ministers of any wrongdoing and contained strong criticisms of the BBC which led to the resignation of the directorgeneral and chairman. The law lord defended himself when accused of ignoring wider intelligence on Iraq saying the inquiry would have gone on too long and it would have been inappropriate for a judge sitting alone to consider such matters.
29 January, 2004
UK government stands by advice of attorney general that Iraq war was legal.
Newspaper reports claimed the Attorney General Lord Goldsmith was forced to firm up his prewar legal opinion because of concern troops could be prosecuted for fighting an illegal conflict. Downing Street denied the claims and said Lord Goldsmith stood by his advice which was "right then and it is right now".
30 January, 2004
The US admits for the first time there may have been flaws in prewar intelligence.
2 February, 2004
George Bush announces independent bipartisan inquiry into prewar intelligence on Iraq.
Unlike the relatively rapid deliberations of the Butler inquiry in the UK the inquiry team is to submit its report by 31 March 2005 well after the November presidential election. Cochaired by Republican Laurence Silberman and Democrat Senator Charles Robb their brief is to investigate prewar intelligence on Iraq and look at what the US knew about weapons programmes in North Korea Iran and Libya.
3 February, 2004
Excivil service head Lord Butler announced as head of UKs WMD intelligence inquiry.
11 February, 2004
Colin Powell tells a congressional committee he had no doubt Iraq had WMD when he gave his UN presentation a year before.
13 February, 2004
US Senate Intelligence Committee widens Iraq probe to examine whether senior officials exaggerated WMD threat.
1 March, 2004
Opposition Conservatives withdraw official support from Butler inquiry. Michael Mates stays on in personal capacity.
3 April, 2004
Colin Powell admits evidence he submitted during UN presentation may have been wrong.
17 May, 2004
Artillery shell containing nerve gas Sarin found in Iraq.
The shell had been set up as a roadside bomb and exploded before the US military was able to defuse it. It appeared to be the first evidence of nerve gas existing in Iraq but the shell reportedly dated back to the IranIraq war in the 1980s. The former regime had declared all such rounds destroyed before the 1991 Gulf War.
6 July, 2004
Tony Blair admits WMD may never be found in Iraq.
9 July, 2004
Senate Intelligence Committee report severely criticises CIA and other agencies for poor quality of prewar intelligence.
In response George Bush defended the decision to go to war saying he had to "either take the word of a madman Saddam Hussein or defend America".
13 July, 2004
Bush says although no WMDs have been found in Iraq Baghdad still had weapons capability and it was right to attack.
US President George W Bush was forced to himself against scathing criticism of US intelligence in the runup to the Iraq war. A US Senate Intelligence Committee report had said US intelligence overstated the case of Iraq building up WMDs.
14 July, 2004
Butler Report is published.
The report said MI6 did not check its sources well enough and sometimes relied on third hand reports. It also said the 2002 dossier should not have included the 45 minute claim without explaining what it meant. Tony Blair "accepted" the findings and said that Iraq may not have had WMD stockpiles when the war started.
28 September, 2004
Speaking at the Labour Party conference Tony Blair admits the evidence about Iraq WMDs was wrong.
Tony Blair acknowledged evidence about Saddam Hussein having actual weapons of mass destruction was wrong during his keynote speech at the Labour Party conference. However the UK prime minister refused to apologise for ousting the former Iraqi leader.
6 October, 2004
The Iraq Survey Group delivers its final report saying it has found no WMDs in Iraq.
The group hunting for banned weapons inside postwar Iraq said it had found no chemical biological or nuclear weapons in. Its chief inspector Charles Duelfer told the US Senate Armed Services Committee he doubted Iraq had "militarily significant" WMD stocks.
12 January, 2005
The US confirms it is no longer looking for WMD in Iraq
American intelligence officials confirm the US has stopped searching for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. They say the chief US investigator Charles Duelfer is not planning to return to the country.
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STRUGGLE FOR IRAQ
Fresh bombings hit Iraq pilgrims
Deadly bombings hit Iraq pilgrims
Blair 'misread' Iran view on Iraq
US soldier on Iraq leaks charges
FEATURES AND ANALYSIS
Day at the races
The remarkable survival of Baghdad racecourse
Dangerous stalemate after election
Water still muddy after Sadr vote
Sadrist vote could anoint new Iraq PM
Iraq views: Voters' uncertainty lingers
Can Allawi heal Iraq's wounds?
The Iraqi bridge to stability
Baghdad diary: Three generations
GUIDES AND BACKGROUND
Iraq: Key facts and figures
Guide to groups in Iraqi polls
Q&A: Iraqi parliamentary polls
Paper seller: 'God knows who will win'
Tailor: 'Business was good under Saddam'
Tennis player: 'I have the same dream'
Struggle for Iraq
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