Thursday, October 07, 2004

We saw no WMD - No 10 labelled us 'naive dupes'

By Kim Sengupta in Baghdad

7 October 2004

The Independent

In the tense countdown to war, with highly charged, passionate debate raging, Tony Blair produced his famous dossier on the imminent threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction - justification for the invasion.

On the day the dossier appeared, 24 September 2002, I was among a group of British journalists taken by the Iraqi regime to some of the sites named as production centres for chemical and biological weapons. We reported we had seen nothing overtly suspicious, stressing the caveat that not having scientific knowledge, ours was a superficial judgement.

We were, said Downing Street officials, "naive dupes" who had fallen for the regime's guile, indeed our newspapers were irresponsible for printing such propaganda. The British government then made public satellite photographs which claimed to show the Iraqis were engaged in secretly reconstructing the Osirak nuclear complex, now renamed al-Tuwaitha.

We have now found out, of course, that the highly alarmist allegations made in the dossier, and a second one produced just before the war, were false.

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