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Friday 24 March 2023 Dublin: 9°C
# Chilcot Inquiry
US arguments for invasion were "absurd"
Dr Hans Blix criticises US and UK decisions as he speaks before the Iraq inquiry in London.

FORMER UN WEAPONS inspector Hans Blix has described US arguments for the 2003 invasion of Iraq as “absurd”. Dr Blix was speaking before the British Iraq inquiry, headed by Sir John Chilcot, this afternoon.

Blix led the UN’s weapon inspection and monitoring team between 1999 and 2003. His team sought to establish the nature and extent of Saddam’s weapons.

He said his team did discover banned substances such as certain missiles, but did not uncover any weapons of mass destruction. He had been surprised to hear the US and UK say Saddam was not cooperating with his inspection team just as his team was reporting the opposite.

Blix criticised the decisions leading to the invasion and agreed with France and Russia that further UN authorisation was needed before military action was taken. He told Tony Blair privately in 2002 that he believed Iraq still held some WMDs after the 1991 Gulf War, but became increasingly suspicious of US intelligence regarding WMDs.

He said: “There are people that defect or give intelligence and want a reward for it, so they’re inclined to give what they think the interrogators want to hear.”

He added that when his team were reported finding no WMDs, the US and UK should have drawn the conclusion that their sources were poor.

The inquiry is drawing to the end of its hearings and is due to publish its report at the end of this year. Tomorrow, two top British commanders who served over the period of the invasion will appear before the inquiry.

One senior British diplomat has accused the inquiry of being too narrow in its questioning, and of failing to present key documents withheld by the Foreign Office.