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Britain's September 2002 dossier


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LONDON, England -- Britain's September 2002 dossier on Iraq's weapons program was compiled by the UK's intelligence service and used by Prime Minister Tony Blair as evidence during an emergency parliamentary debate to support the case for war.

The 50-page report talked about the threat from Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction being "active, detailed and growing."

And it claimed Iraq was five years away from producing a nuclear weapon on its own -- or only between one and two years away if it managed to obtain weapons-grade material from abroad.

But allegations were made that the government had "sexed up" parts of the document by inserting a section claiming Iraq had the capability to launch a chemical or biological attack within 45 minutes of the order being given.

The dossier also came in for criticism over claims that Iraq sought uranium from Africa -- a claim that was used by U.S. President George W. Bush in his State of the Union address on January 28, 2003.

U.S. intelligence had reservations about the information but failed to remove it from the speech, prompting an apology in July 2003 from CIA Director George Tenet.

However, Britain has stood by what it regards as "reliable intelligence" which it said had not been shared with Washington.

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said in a letter to Donald Anderson, chairman of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee, dated July 11 2003: "The government's dossier catalogued a range of other procurement activities, and referred to intelligence that scientists had been recalled to the program in 1998."

The "sexed up" allegation saw the government become embroiled in a row with the BBC.

The argument centered on a report by BBC defense correspondent Andrew Gilligan on the Today radio program quoting an unnamed source as saying a government official had "sexed up" part of the dossier against the intelligence service's wishes.

He said in a newspaper article that Blair's director of communications, Alastair Campbell, had over-emphasized the 45-minute claim.

On July 7, 2003, the UK Foreign Affairs Select Committee reported: "We conclude that the claims made in the September dossier were in all probability well founded on the basis of the intelligence then available."

But the committee said the dossier "was in places more assertive than that traditionally used in intelligence documents."

The panel cleared Campbell of any wrongdoing in the preparation of the document, and the British government has stood staunchly by the dossier.

Blair told the House of Commons Liaison Committee on July 8, 2003: "I stand 100 percent by it and I think our intelligence services gave us the correct intelligence and information at the time."

Saddam's regime had claimed at the time that the dossier was "full of false propaganda which lacks material and convincing evidence."


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