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Key quotes from Blair testimony

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Blair faces Iraq inquiry
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Former British PM testifies to Iraq War Inquiry
  • Blair speaks on how the September 11 attacks changed everything
  • On the 45-minute claim: "I did believe it, frankly, beyond doubt"
  • On joining the U.S. in the Iraq war: "I said I would stand shoulder to shoulder with them"
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London, England (CNN) -- For several hours Friday, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair attempted to justify the country's role in the Iraq war at an inquiry into the 2003 conflict.

Blair said he believed "frankly, beyond doubt" his pre-war claim that Iraq was capable of launching chemical and biological weapons within 45 minutes.

Here are other key quotes from Blair's testimony.

On how the September 11, 2001 attacks changed everything:

"After September 11, if you were a regime engaged in WMD (weapons of mass destruction), you had to stop."

On the September 11 attacks encouraging Britain to join America in the Iraq war:

"I said I would stand shoulder to shoulder with them. We did that in Afghanistan, and I was determined to do that again."

Regarding the role of regime change in the decision to go to war:

"The Americans, in a sense, were saying, 'We're for regime change 'cause we don't trust he's ever going to give up his WMD ambitions.' We were saying, 'We have to deal with his WMD ambitions. If that means regime change, so be it.'"

On joining the U.S. in the Iraq war:

"I had taken a view that this was something that, if it was right to do, actually it mattered to have Britain there."

On the attention on Iraq:

"The reason why we focused on Iraq was the history of U.N. resolutions being breached, but also -- and I think this is a pretty important point -- was he had used them (weapons of mass destruction)."

On the claim that Iraq was capable of launching chemical and biological weapons within 45 minutes:

"I did believe it, frankly, beyond doubt."

On the threat from Saddam Hussein:

"If there was any possibility that he could develop WMD, we should stop him. That was my view. That was my view then, that is my view now. As time went on, I became increasingly alarmed, actually, that we were just back into a game-playing situation with Saddam. I think we were, incidentally. I think it's very clear from what we know now that he never had any intention of his people cooperating fully with the inspectors."

On what may have happened without military action:

"Sometimes what's important is not to ask the March 2003 question, it's to ask the 2010 question. Supposing we had backed off this military action. Supposing we had left Saddam and his sons, who were going to follow him, in charge of Iraq -- people who'd used chemical weapons, caused the death of over a million people. What we now know is that he retained absolutely the intent and the intellectual knowhow to restart a nuclear and a chemical weapons program when the inspectors were out and the sanctions changed, which they were going to be. Now, I think it is at least arguable that he was a threat, and that had we taken that decision to leave him there with the intent, with an oil price not of $25 but of $100 a barrel, he would have had the intent, he would have had the financial means, and we would have lost our nerve."