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Blair: WMD reports 'accurate'


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•  Commanders: U.S. | Iraq
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair stood firm Wednesday on his government's use of intelligence information on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, saying he had "no doubt at all" of its accuracy.

Blair, coming under intense questioning in the House of Commons, said that any suggestion that evidence of WMD had been invented was "absurd."

The prime minister also reiterated his position that parliament had not been "misled in any way at all" by information contained in dossiers used by the UK government to justify war with Iraq.

However, Blair made no direct reference to apparently contradictory statements by Britain and the United States over assertions that Iraq had attempted to buy nuclear material from Africa. (Full story)

The assertion that Iraq was attempting to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program was one of the key points in the U.S. and UK administrations' rationale for war.

Blair, appearing before the House of Commons Liaison Committee Tuesday, defended his government's case for going to war with Iraq and rejected claims that he misled Britain ahead of the conflict.

"I think we did the right thing in relation to Iraq. I stand 100 percent by it and I think our intelligence services gave us the correct intelligence and information at the time." (Full story)

However, it was Blair's comments on Iraq's alleged attempts to obtain uranium from Niger that sparked a new controversy over the accuracy of intelligence information and how it was used to justify war.

At issue are comments made by U.S. President George W. Bush in his State of the Union address in January concerning the Iraq-Niger connection.

Bush said: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

But in March, the International Atomic Energy Agency dismissed as forgeries documents that alleged Iraq may have tried to buy 500 tons of uranium from Niger. (Full story)

Blair has maintained his government had separate sources for the alleged resumption of uranium trade between Iraq and Niger and that it did not rely on the documents the IAEA said were forgeries.

On Tuesday, Blair told the committee "the evidence that we had that Iraq had gone back to Niger to try to purchase further amounts of uranium from Niger did not come from these so-called forged documents, they came from separate intelligence and again, insofar as our intelligence services are concerned, they stand by that.

"Now we said ... that we believed that they [Iraq] tried to purchase this uranium but we couldn't say whether they'd been successful in doing so, so we said exactly what the intelligence was."

Meanwhile, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said Monday the U.S. administration had "long acknowledged the information was incorrect."

He added that the administration did not know the information was false before the State of the Union address. (Full story)

Blair's appearance before the committee Tuesday came one day after another parliamentary panel criticized the prime minister over the February dossier.

On Monday, the Foreign Affairs Committee concluded the dossier "was almost wholly counterproductive" and that Blair, in comments to parliament, "misrepresented its status and thus inadvertently made a bad situation worse." (Full story)


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