Intelligence information that Saddam Hussein had dismantled his weapons of mass destruction program was received by the Foreign Office days before Tony Blair ordered the invasion of Iraq, an inquiry into the war heard Wednesday, according to the Times of London.
The revelation on the second day of the Chilcot Inquiry will raise fresh questions about the justification for invading Iraq in March 2003.
The inquiry heard that the Foreign Office did not believe that Iraq had a large number of long-range missiles and that the claim that Saddam could launch a chemical or biological attack within 45 minutes related only to battlefield weapons and not those capable of reaching other countries, the paper reported
Sir William Ehrman, a senior Foreign Office official, told the inquiry: “We were getting in the very final days before military action some [intelligence] on chemical and biological weapons that it was dismantled and [Iraq] might not have the munitions to deliver it,” the paper reported.
Sir William was the Foreign Office’s director of international security from 2000 to 2002 and director-general of defense and intelligence from 2002 to 2004.
He told the inquiry that there had been little fresh reliable intelligence on Iraq’s weapons programs after United Nations inspectors were expelled in 1998, the paper reported.