I think my initial views on whether the war was justified really relate to UN Security Council resolutions, going back over 12 years, relating to, primarily, the disarmament issue. And I believe with all those 16 resolutions plus 1441 that there was a legal basis for action because the regime had not made the strategic decision to disarm.

So I think on that basis there was legal justification for going to war. And also if you add into the scenario other issues such as the repressive nature of the regime, its lack of accounting for Kuwaiti missing in action and the rest, there was probably quite a convincing argument for military action.

The issue of the inspectors and whether they had enough time is really all about the reliance of UN inspection progress on two things. One was on the regime in Baghdad and Saddam Hussein actually co-operating and the second issue was relying on the external military pressure which the coalition was building up to try to get the regime to start cooperating properly.

You need to think about the potential threat in terms of the long term ambitions of a regime. In the right circumstances, the regime would certainly have pursued and acquired nuclear capability, if it could have done so. And the second issue to not to get overly focused on the deliverables of the weapons of mass destruction themselves - seeing a rocket with a warhead on the end of it. I think in disarmament terms you've really got to think about the broader industrial infrastructure, the research and development, the technical know-how.

These are bigger issues which the coalition will have to address on the disarmament front in the months ahead and at some point hopefully will probably re-engage the UN for verification purposes. So I think you need to think about those issues, especially if you want to avoid Iraq becoming a secondary proliferation threat. If you do not account for industrial infrastructure that's related to these programmes, you don't account for procurement networks for technology from abroad - then this stuff can potentially get to other states and potentially terrorist groups.

If you look back at the key UN reports there were numerous chemical and biological munitions, chemical and biological stocks and precursor chemicals which had not been accounted for. All you need to do is to refer to the UN reports to get that information. So there was a lot of stuff out there.

There were also between 12 and 20 al-Hussein Scud missiles with war heads that could deliver chemical and biological warheads up to 650 kilometres. That was another area of concern. And as we saw from the inspection process Iraq had already breached the legal development of ballistic missiles with the Al Sumud II programme. There was a lot of information that pointed to the fact that not all was as it should be.

I think what is certainly important is at some point down the road is to have independent verification of any discoveries that the coalition makes. Whether that's done by the UN, I don't know. Whether that's done by a neutral third party of some sort - again it's too early to discuss those issues. But I think a role for the UN to verify what is discovered in Iraq is pretty important for, as you say, legitimacy purposes.

In many respects, there was quite a strong case for removing the regime in Iraq regardless of weapons of mass destructions issues and perhaps a better case could have been developed on terms on the basis of the regime actually being quite repressive in terms of human rights and its awful track record in terms of civil liberties etc. So I think that in an ideal world, the regime change in Iraq could have been justified on more than just the weapons of mass destruction issue.

I think that the key effect in Iraq will be the fact that people on the ground in the country there will now feel much freer than they have felt for decades - freedom of speech and so on, freedom of movement and the like. I think that's going to be the biggest thing that the Iraqi population is going to have going for them over the next months and years to come.

And having been an inspector on the ground, that was one thing that was always really on the backs of our minds, that we could never engage with the Iraqi population in the hotels and restaurants on a one-to-one basis as fellow human beings because you were always concerned about their security and you never wanted them to be seen to be talking to you because that might have been seen to be suspicious by the regime.

Whether we see positive development in the Middle East peace process because we've seen this regime change in Iraq. That's on the positive side. On the negative side, we could see the likes of Iran respond quite negatively in terms of its own weapons of mass destruction programmes because it very much sees Iraq as a case study of what might actually happen to Iran in the future.

I think it's going to probably escalate the Iranian nuclear programme because they never want to be in a situation where the Americans can come in and do what they did to the regime of Saddam Hussein. Because if you think about it, if Saddam Hussein had had a deliverable nuclear capability, I don't think we'd have been seeing the coalition going in there as it did in this conflict.

Again, North Korea is a different context. It probably already has a nuclear capability of sorts but it's a totally different prospect than taking out the Iraqi regime. Because conventionally they are pretty massive in terms of military capabilities.

They have a capability to flatten Seoul within a matter of hours using conventional artillery alone because of the proximity of Seoul to North Korea.

I think the key thing about Iraq - I began to think this before the war itself, during it and more so afterwards - that Iraq was very much about the United States sending messages and sending messages from a conflict which it knew it could win.

So in many respects it could have been seen to strengthen American deterrent and coercive policy in the future. You need almost to demonstrate resolve and to do something like the Iraq conflict to be able to strengthen your credibility for the future.