19 September 2004

Iraq had no WMD: the final verdict

The comprehensive 15-month search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has concluded that the only chemical or biological agents that Saddam Hussein's regime was working on before last year's invasion were small quantities of poisons, most likely for use in assassinations.

A draft of the Iraq Survey Group's final report circulating in Washington found no sign of the alleged illegal stockpiles that the US and Britain presented as the justification for going to war, nor did it find any evidence of efforts to reconstitute Iraq's nuclear weapons programme.

It also appears to play down an interim report which suggested there was evidence that Iraq was developing "test amounts" of ricin for use in weapons. Instead, the ISG report says in its conclusion that there was evidence to suggest the Iraqi regime planned to restart its illegal weapons programmes if UN sanctions were lifted.

Charles Duelfer, the head of the ISG, has said he intends to deliver his final report by the end of the month. It is likely to become a heated issue in the election campaign.

How the hell did it come to this? For the record there is no evidence of the famous human shredder and the mass graves were grossly exaggerated. The real figure was 5000 and dates from the Shia/Kurdish uprising after the First Gulf War.

The level of mortality since the Coalition of the Willing is estimated between 12778 and 14820. Iraq was a rogue state but it was contained. Now, according to the US national intelligence estimate, Iraq hovers between fragmentation, instability and civil war. It seems a high price to pay for a mistake, a mistake the leaders of the Coalition of the Willing insist they would repeat.

They are digging mass graves in Fallujah today. How long will we stay the course?

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