Thursday, May 03, 2007

Blair's Biological Claim

Prime Minister's Question Time 2 May 2007

Q2. [135076] Mr. John Baron (Billericay) (Con): On 24 September 2002, the Prime Minister told the House that if Saddam Hussein was able to purchase fissile material illegally, it would be only one to two years before he had acquired a usable nuclear weapon. Given that a recent letter that I have from the Cabinet Office can find no basis for that claim—a claim that was not attributed to the Joint Intelligence Committee and which did not reflect the standing JIC assessment, as the Prime Minister knew very well—on what basis did the Prime Minister make that claim, both in a statement to the House and in the Iraq dossier?

The Prime Minister: I do not accept what the hon. Gentleman says at all. The fact is that if Saddam Hussein had been able to acquire fissile material, it would have allowed him to develop nuclear weapons. That is correct. The one thing that we know is that he was somebody who used, not nuclear, but chemical and biological weapons against his own people. So, let me just say to the hon. Gentleman, some people may take the view that Saddam was not a threat; that is not my view. He was a threat and we dealt with him.

From the Dossier itself:


...Saddam has used chemical weapons, not only against an enemy state, but against his own people...


...Saddam has used chemical weapons, both against Iran and against his own people...



The use of chemical and biological weapons

8. Iraq had made frequent use of a variety of chemical weapons during the Iran-Iraq War. (Many of the casualties are still in Iranian hospitals suffering from the long-term effects of numerous types of cancer and lung diseases.) In 1988 Saddam also used mustard and nerve agents against Iraqi Kurds at Halabja in northern Iraq (see box). Estimates vary, but according to Human Rights Watch up to 5,000 people were killed.

9. Iraq used significant quantities of mustard, tabun and sarin during the war with Iran resulting in over 20,000 Iranian casualties. A month after the attack on Halabja, Iraqi troops used over 100 tonnes of sarin nerve agent against Iranian troops on the Al Fao peninsula. Over the next three months Iraqi troops used sarin and other nerve agents on Iranian troops causing extensive casualties.



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