DENUCLEARIZATION DESIGN                    Document & Study Guide







The Issue: How did Britain join the 2003 Iraq War, if there were no nuclear weapons or other ŒWMDı in Iraq?




This question puzzles Britons, and all others concerned by the launching of the Iraq War. Sometime long before 19 March 2003 Tony Blair probably made a commitment to GW Bush that Britain would join at attack on Iraq. But at home, given opposition in his own Labour Party, Blair had seemed to accept that a Œsecond UN Security Council resolutionı containing an agreed authorization of the use of force against Iraq would be necessary, a prerequisite to Britainıs joining the war.


In the end, however, there was no Œsecond resolutionı, because many on the UNSC thought Washington hasty, for example in not giving UNMOVIC and IAEA inspections a chance, or wrong-footed.


The row about British authorization to make war came down to these six questions:


[1] Did Prime Minister Tony Blair, before Congress and Parliament had voted to authorize war, strike a deal with GW Bush to join in an invasion of Iraq? If so, why?


[2] Did Blair make inadequately evidenced claims about Iraqi WMD, in proffers to the House of Commons and the public? If so, who should have blown the whistle, but did not?


[3] Just what was the Attorney Generalıs advice to Blair, especially in March 2003, about the legality of going to war in Iraq?


[4] Did Blair or his Government distort the evidence of Iraqi ŒWMDı, or advice given to him, or Œlean onı the Attorney General to adopt a strained interpretation of the evidence as it bore on Œlegalityı?


[5] Did Blair fail to give adequate scrutiny to texts prepared for him by British intelligence, or fail to make adequate demand for the evidence that the most striking claims were true, before adopting those texts as his own?


[6] Did Blair lie to the House of Commons?


The British move to war is tracable in a number of key documents and episodes. A systematic critique is developed, for example, in the 2004.08 complaint A Case to Answer, cited below. The British Government position is amply made out in its statements and ex post facto reviews. Episodes prompting texts and explanations include


[a] the Blair governmentıs need to make a case before the House of Commons and the public;


[b] interviews given and testimony, and then suicide, of David Kelly, perhaps Britainıs most knowledgable expert on BW arms control;


[c] the resignation, two days before the war was launched, of Elizabeth Wilmshurst, a key British government expert on international law.


In addition, we list key US documents, decisions and publications which are germane to the UK position.



The Documents


1992.03.11     The Washington Post reports the existence of a draft Defense Planning Guidance, which includes several possible war scenarios, including war against Iraq.[1]


                    The Washington Post summarises that the report ³contemplates use of American military power to preempt or punish² use of nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons‹then directly quoting the text‹³even in conflicts that otherwise do not directly engage U.S. interests.² The Pentagon sought to dismiss the text as a draft.


1998.01.26     A private letter to President Clinton urging Saddam Husseinıs ³removal from power.²


                    This letter advances a case for Clinton to ³act decisively² to bring about ³the removal of Saddam Husseinıs regime from power.² Not to do so is to ³accept a course of weakness and drift.² The letterıs significance lies in the signers, among them a number who hold positions in or near the GW Bush administration: Elliott Abrams, John Bolton, Zalmay Khalilzad, Richard Perle, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and R. James Woolsey. The writers utter a number of the arguments which were to echo in 2002 and 2003. ŒContainmentı of Saddam is eroding. Even if weapons inspections were resumed ³experience has shown that it is difficult if not impossible to monitor Iraqıs chemical and biological weapons production.² ³Given the magnitude of the threat, the current policy Š is dangerously inadequate.²


The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction. Š In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action Š [2]




2000.08         Project for a New American Century. ³Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century.² [3]


                    This document lays out a plan for future US policy, in which Iraq is mentioned 25 times in 90 pages. It argues, for example, that


                          the United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein. Š We cannot allow North Korea, Iran, Iraq or similar states to undermine American leadership, intimidate American allies or threaten the American homeland itself. The blessings of the American peace, purchased at fearful cost and a century of effort, should not be so trivially squandered.





                               White House caption:  President George W. Bush appears with British Prime Minister Tony Blair at a press conference at Crawford High School in Crawford, Texas on April 6, 2002. White House Photo by Paul Morse.[4]



2002.04.06     PM Blair and GW Bush meet in Crawford, Texas, and hold a joint news conference. They respond to a question on Iraq:


                                      Q. Thank you. Mr. President, you have yet to build an international coalition for military action against Iraq. Has the violence in the Middle East thwarted your efforts? And Prime Minister Blair, has Bush convinced you on the need for a military action against Iraq?


                                      THE PRESIDENT: Adam, the Prime Minister and I, of course, talked about Iraq. We both recognize the danger of a man whoıs willing to kill his own people harboring and developing weapons of mass destruction. This guy, Saddam Hussein, is a leader who gasses his own people, goes after people in his own neighborhood with weapons of -- chemical weapons. Heıs a man who obviously has something to hide.


                                      He told the world that he would show us that he would not develop weapons of mass destruction and yet, over the past decade, he has refused to do so. And the Prime Minister and I both agree that he needs to prove that he isnıt developing weapons of mass destruction.


                                      I explained to the Prime Minister that the policy of my government is the removal of Saddam and that all options are on the table.


                                      THE PRIME MINISTER: I can say that any sensible person looking at the position of Saddam Hussein and asking the question, would the region, the world, and not least the ordinary Iraqi people be better off without the regime of Saddam Hussein, the only answer anyone could give to that question would be, yes.


                                      Now, how we approach this, this is a matter for discussion. This is a matter for considering all the options. But a situation where he continues to be in breach of all the United Nations resolutions, refusing to allow us to assess, as the international community have demanded, whether and how he is developing these weapons of mass destruction. Doing nothing in those circumstances is not an option, so we consider all the options available.


                                      But the President is right to draw attention to the threat of weapons of mass destruction. That threat is real. How we deal with it, thatıs a matter we discuss. But that the threat exists and we have to deal with it, that seems to me a matter of plain common sense.


                                      Q.  Prime Minister, weıve heard the President say what his policy is directly about Saddam Hussein, which is to remove him. That is the policy of the American administration. Can I ask you whether that is now the policy of the British government? And can I ask you both if it is now your policy to target Saddam Hussein, what has happened to the doctrine of not targeting heads of states and leaving countries to decide who their leaders should be, which is one of the principles which applied during the Gulf War?


                                      THE PRIME MINISTER: Well, John, you know it has always been our policy that Iraq would be a better place without Saddam Hussein. I don't think anyone can be in any doubt about that, for all the reasons I gave earlier. And you know reasons to do with weapons of mass destruction also deal with the appalling brutality and repression of his own people. But how we now proceed in this situation, how we make sure that this threat that is posed by weapons of mass destruction is dealt with, that is a matter that is open. And when the time comes for taking those decisions, we will tell people about those decisions.


                                      But you cannot have a situation in which he carries on being in breach of the U.N. resolutions, and refusing to allow us the capability of assessing how that weapons of mass destruction capability is being advanced, even though the international community has made it absolutely clear that he should do so.


                                      Now, as I say, how we then proceed from there, that is a matter that is open for us.


                                      THE PRESIDENT: Maybe I should be a little less direct and be a little more nuanced, and say we support regime change.


                                      Q Thatıs a change though, isnıt it, a change in policy?


                                      THE PRESIDENT: No, itıs really not. Regime change was the policy of my predecessor, as well.


                                      Q And your father?


                                      THE PRESIDENT: You know, I can't remember that far back. (Laughter.) Itıs certainly the policy of my administration. I think regime change sounds a lot more civil, doesnıt it? The world would be better off without him. Let me put it that way, though. And so will the future.


                                      See, the worst thing that can happen is to allow this man to abrogate his promise, and hook up with a terrorist network. And then all of a sudden youıve got one of these shadowy terrorist networks that have got an arsenal at their disposal, which could create a situation in which nations down the road get blackmailed. We canıt let it happen, we just canıt let it happen. And, obviously, the Prime Minister is somebody who understands this clearly. And thatıs why I appreciate dealing with him on the issue. And weıve got close consultations going on, and we talk about it all the time. And heıs got very good advice on the subject, and I appreciate that.[5]


                    ³President Bush, Prime Minister Blair Hold Press Conference,² Remarks by President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair in Joint Press Availability, Crawford High School,  Crawford, Texas, 6 April 2002.


2002.07.23     Reported Prime Ministerıs meeting, of which a document said to be minutes of the meeting was published in the Sunday Times [London] on 1 May 2005. According to the Guardian


                              The meeting was attended by Geoff Hoon, the defence secretary, Mr Straw, Lord Goldsmith, Sir Richard Wilson, the cabinet secretary, John Scarlett, chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee (now head of MI6), Francis Richards, then director of GCHQ, Lord Boyce, then chief of defence staff, Sir Richard Dearlove, Mr Scarlett's predecessor, and three of Mr Blair's close aides: Jonathan Powell, Baroness Sally Morgan, and Alastair Campbell. [6]


                    A reading of the document by Independent [London] correspondent Nigel Morris sees this significance:


                              Leaked Downing Street papers disclosed yesterday that the Prime Minister was privately contemplating ³regime change² in Iraq in July 2002, while publicly insisting Saddam could avoid war if he complied with United Nations resolutions.


                                             The documents will bolster accusations by the warıs opponents that Mr Blair agreed to support military intervention at a meeting with George Bush at the Presidentıs Texas ranch back in April 2002, a charge denied by the Government.


                                             In a further blow , the Chief of Defence Staff at the time of the war, Admiral Sir Michael (now Lord) Boyce, expressed his concerns the war might have been illegal.[7]



                    The Sunday Times [London], 1 May 2005.,,2087-1593607,00.html

                    Richard Norton-Taylor and Patrick Wintour, The Guardian [London], 2 May 2005.,15803,1474755,00.html

                    Nigel Morris, The Independent [London], 2 May 2005.


2002.08.        Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. ³Iraq: A New Approach.²




2002.09.07     Tony Blair and GW Bush Meet at Camp David, Maryland.[8]


2002.09.09     International Institute for Strategic Studies [London]. ³Iraqıs Weapons of Mass Destruction: A Net Assessment.²


                    Unavailable on the Web, but sold in hard copy: see



2002.09.24     United Kingdom. ³Iraqıs Weapons of Mass Destruction: The Assessment of the British Government.²




                    Released on the morning of the Tuesday, 24 September 2002 House of Commons debate, this report embodies claims and judgments of Britainıs intelligence services, but does not offer sources other than those in the public realm. It includes the Œ45-minutesı claim. The text:


                    [Blairıs forward, p. 4] ³And the document discloses that his military planning allows for some of the WMD to be ready within 45 minutes of an order to use them.²


                    [Executive Summary, p. 5]  ³6. As a result of the intelligence we judge that Iraq has: Š ● military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, including against its own Shia population. Some of these weapons are deployable within 45 minutes of an order to use them;²


                    [Text, p. 17]  ³● Iraqıs military forces are able to use chemical and biological weapons, with command, control and logistical arrangements in place. The Iraqi military are able to deploy these weapons within 45 minutes of a decision to do so;²


                    [Text, p. 19] [Subhead] ³Recent Intelligence² [Text] ³● Saddamıs willingness to use chemical and biological weapons: intelligence indicates that as part of Iraqıs military planning Saddam is willing to use chemical and biological weapons, including against his own Shia population. Intelligence indicates that the Iraqi military are able to deploy chemical or biological weapons within 45 minutes of an order to do so.²



2002.09.24     Prime Minister Tony Blairıs speech to the House of Commons.




2002.09.24 United Kingdom. House of Commons. Iraq Resolution.




2002.10.04     United States. Central Intelligence Agency. ³Iraqıs Weapons of Mass Destruction Program.²




                    This well-illustrated overview covers much the same ground as the 24 September 2002 British dossier.


2002.10.11 United States. Congress.  ³Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002.² Public Law 107-243‹October 16, 2002.




                    Issues concerning Congressı grant of authority to undertake war in Iraq are canvassed in Bruce D. Larkin, ³The Iraq War of 2003 and the Politics of Denuclearization,² for which the URL is at the end of this guide.


2002.11.08 United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441. S/RES/1441 (2002).




2003.01.27     United Nations. Transcript of Statement by Hans Blix to the United Nations Security Council, 27 January 2003. Transcript of Statement by Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, to the UN Security Council, 27 January 2003.  The New York Times, 28 January 2003.


2003.02.05 US Secretary of State Colin Powell presented to the UN Security Council Washingtonıs case that Iraq was in breach of UN resolutions. [Some of the assertions he made were later shown to be wrong.]




2003.01.31     In a secret memorandum of this date, Frank Koza, a US National Security Agency official, called for intensified surveillance of UN Security Council member statesı delegationsı communications. A copy to NSAıs British counterpart, GCHQ, was leaked by a GCHQ employee, and Ms. Katherine Gun was charged.[9] Correspondents Martin Bright and Peter Beaumont wrote, in part:


                              Translators and analysts at the Government's top-secret surveillance centre GCHQ were ordered to co-operate with an American espionage 'surge' on Security Council delegations after a request from the US National Security Agency at the end of January 2003. This was designed to help smooth the way for a second UN resolution authorising war in Iraq.


                                             The information was intended for US Secretary of State Colin Powell before his presentation on weapons of mass destruction to the Security Council on 5 February.


                                             Sources close to the intelligence services have now confirmed that the request from the security agency was 'acted on' by the British authorities. It is also known that the operation caused significant disquiet in the intelligence community on both sides of the Atlantic.


                    See also Patrick Radden Keefe, Chatter: Dispatches from the Secret World of Global Eavesdropping (New York: Random House, 2005), pp. 29-47, which inter alia reports his interviews with Katherine Gun.


                    The full text of Frank Kozaıs memorandum is at




2003.02.03     Britain issues the paper ³Iraq‹Its Infrastructure of Concealment, Deception and Intimidation². This is subsequently found to have included material plagiarized from an article by California-based Ibrahim al-Marashi, and becomes known as the Œdodgie dossierı.[10]




2003.03.07 UK Attorney General Lord Goldsmith submits an advice to PM Tony Blair on the legality of initiating war against Iraq. This document, and Lord Goldsmithıs second advice of 17 March 2003, are the subject of great controversy. Did Lord Goldsmith change his mind between the first and second advice? Or did he abandon his first advice under pressure?  Were the Attorney Generalıs views accurately conveyed by PM Blair to the Commons? The full text of the 7 March document was released on 28 April 2005:


                    United Kingdom. Office of the Prime Minister. Lord Goldsmiths advice of 7 March 2003, titled ³Resolution 144².[pdf] [Scanned copy of original 'SECRET' document.]



                    Guardian [London], 2005.04.28. The text of the 7 March 2003 document, in two parts:






                    United Kingdom. Hansard. House of Commons Debate on Iraq, 2003.03.18.




                    Colin Brown, Independent [London], ³Blair accused of Œgross deceptionı as Goldsmithıs advice is published.² 2005.04.28.



                    A chronology of the Countdown to War, 8 November 2002 to 20 March 2003; and hot links to documents: Guardian, 2005.04.28.



                    Simon Jeffery and Tom Happold, ³Full Iraq Legal Advice Released²: Guardian [London], 2005.04.28.



2003.03.17     UK Attorney General Lord Goldsmith submits a one-page nine-paragraph statement, on which the Blair Government relies, which reportedly argues that UNSC 1441 is sufficient to meet any objections that initiating war would be illegal.


                    Guardian [London], 2003.03.17. Lord Goldsmithıs advice of 17 March 2003:





2003.03.17     Notified by the United States that war is impending, the United Nations and IAEA withdraw the UNMOVIC and IAEA inspectors from Iraq after a stay of about four months.


2003.03.18     Elizabeth Wilmshurst, deputy legal adviser at the British Foreign Office, submits her letter of resignation.[11]


                    Her letter stated:  ³My views accord with the advice that has been given consistently in this office before and after the adoption of SCR (UN security council resolution) 1441, and with what the attorney general gave us to understand was his view prior to his letter of 7 March.²


                    Former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, who opposed the war, said ³It is very difficult to avoid the conclusion that what changed Š was the discovery that we were not going to get the second resolution.²[12]


2003.03.19 Iraq War begun.


2003.05.23     Dr. David Kelly had a conversation with Andrew Gilligan, defence and diplomatic correspondent of the Today program on BBC4.. [Hutton Report, ĥ 30.


2003.05.29     At 6.07 am on the BBC Today program the following was broadcast. ŒJHı is John Humphreys, ŒAGı is Andrew Gilligan. A central issue is whether David Kelly told Andrew Gilligan that the Blair government knew its claim about Iraq 45-minute WMD readiness was not true.


JH:          The government is facing more questions this morning over its claim about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Our defence correspondent is Andrew Gilligan.  This in particular Andy is Tony Blair saying, theyıd be ready to go within forty five minutes.


AG:         Thatıs right, that was the central claim in his dossier which he published in September, the main erm, case if you like against er, against Iraq and the main statement of the British governmentıs belief of what it thought Iraq was up to and what weıve been told by one of the senior officials in charge of drawing up that dossier was that, actually the government probably erm, knew that that forty five minute figure was wrong, even before it decided to put it in. What this person says, is that a week before the publication date of the dossier, it was actually rather erm, a bland production. It didnıt, the, the draft prepared for Mr Blair by the Intelligence Agencies actually didnıt say very much more than was public knowledge already and erm, Downing Street, our source says ordered a week before publication, ordered it to be sexed up, to be made more exciting and ordered more facts to be er, to be discovered.


JH:          When you say Œmore facts to be discoveredı, does that suggest that they may not have been facts?


AG:         Well, erm, our source says that the dossier, as it was finally published, made the Intelligence Services unhappy, erm, because, to quote erm the source he said, there was basically, that there was, there was, there was unhappiness because it didnıt reflect, the considered view they were putting forward, thatıs a quote from our source and essentially, erm, the forty-five minute point er, was, was probably the most important thing that was added. Erm, and the reason it hadnıt been in the original draft was that it was, it was only erm, it only came from one source and most of the other claims were from two, and the intelligence agencies say the donıt really believe it was necessarily true because they thought the person making the claim had actually made a mistake, it got, had got mixed up.


JH:          Does any of this matter now, all this, all these months later? The warıs been fought and won.


AG:         Well the forty five minutes isnıt just a detail, it did go to the heart of the governmentıs case that Saddam was an imminent threat and it was repeated four times in the dossier, including by the Prime Minister himself, in the foreword; so I think it probably does matter. Clearly, you know, if emr, if it, if it was, if it was wrong things do, things are, got wrong in good faith but if they knew it was wrong before they actually made the claim, thatıs perhaps a bit more serious.


JH:          Andrew, many thanks; more about this later.


2003.07.15-16 Dr. David Kelly gave evidence, separately, to the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Intelligence and Security Committee of the House of Commons.[13]


2003.07.18      The body of Dr. David Kelly found,[14] an Œapparentı suicide.


2003.09.09      United Kingdom. House of Commons. Intelligence and Security Committee. Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction‹Intelligence and Assessments.


                     The covering letter to Prime Minister Blair states: ³This Report does not judge whether the decision to invade Iraq was correct. Its purpose is to examine whether the available intelligence, which informed the decision to invade Iraq, was adequate and properly assessed and whether it was accurately reflected in Government publications.²


2003.10.02      US. Central Intelligence Agency. Statement by David Kay on the Interim Progress Report on the Activities of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) Before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Defense, and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. [Kay Report]


2004.01.28      United Kingdom. Lord Hutton. Report of an Inquiry Into the Circumstances Surrounding the Death of Dr. David Kelly. C.M.G. [The Hutton Report]


                     Lord Hutton was appointed by the Prime Minister to conduct this inquiry. Critics dismissed the Hutton Report as a whitewash. The Hutton inquiry site, however, contains extensive testimony and documents.


                     The site:


                     The report:


2004.07.14      United Kingdom. Report of a Committee of Privy Counsellors. Rt Hon The Lord Butler of Brockwell KG GCB CVO, Chairman. ³Review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction.² [The Butler Report]


                     The associated site also contains useful documents.


                     The site:


                     The review:




                     Beware the hoax site at


2004.08.23      Glen Rangwala and Dan Plesch. A Case to Answer: A first report on the potential impeachment of the Prime Minister for High Crimes and Misdemeanours in relation to the invasion of Iraq. Produced for Adam Price MP.




2004.09.30     US Central Intelligence Agency. Comprehensive Report of the Special Advisor to the DCI on Iraqıs WMD. Charles Duelfer, Special Advisor to the Director of Central Intelligence.


                    This report, the final report of the Iraq Survey Group, follows David Kayıs interim report of 2 October 2003. The Iraq Survey Group found no evidence of significant chemical or biological agents, no evidence of nuclear weapons, and no evidence of ongoing programs to make or acquire BW, CW, or nuclear weapons.




2005.04.28      The Office of the Prime Minister releases Lord Goldsmithıs 7 March 2003 advice to PM Blair on legality of the impending Iraq War. [See entries for 2003.03.07 and 2003.03.17 for links to the two advices of Attorney General Lord Goldsmith.]


2005.05.01      The Sunday Times [London] publishes what is said to be a minute of a conference held 23 July 2002, among PM Blair and his closest advisers, on the posture to take vis-á-vis Iraq and US intentions.






Also See


2002.12.08     Bruce D. Larkin, ³Iraq: Go to War? and the Nuclear Question.²





2003.11.17         Bruce D. Larkin, ³The Iraq War of 2003 and the Politics of Denuclearization.²






Version:  2 May 2005.     Global Collaborative on Denuclearization Design



[1]           The Washington Post, 11 March 1992.

[2]           Ibid.

[3]           The authors stipulate that the report ³does not necessarily represent the view of the project participants.² Among participants is Paul Wolfowitz, US Undersecretary of Defense 2001-2005 and US nominee to be head of the World Bank.



[5]           ³President Bush, Prime Minister Blair Hold Press Conference,² Remarks by President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair in Joint Press Availability, Crawford High School,  Crawford, Texas, 6 April 2002.

[6]                Richard Norton-Taylor and Patrick Wintour, The Guardian [London], 2 May 2005.,15803,1474755,00.html

[7]           Nigel Morris, The Independent [London], 2 May 2005.



[9]                The Observer, 8 February 2004. See also Martin Bright et al., The Observer, 29 February 2004:

  ,6903,1158679,00.html and


[10]              Al-Marashi testified before the House of Commonsı Foreign Affairs Committee. His graduate thesis had said that Iraq had supported foreign opposition groups. ³By changing the words, they are distorting the meaning and it looks like they [Iraq] are supporting groups like al-Qaida.² Patrick Wintour, The Guardian, 20 June 2003.



[11]              Frank Millar, The Irish Times, 25 March 2005, writes:  ³[A]t the core of the current controversy is the claim in Ms Wilmshurstıs full and uncensored letter obtained by Channel 4 News that just 10 days before Lord Goldsmith gave that verdict, he shared her view that military action would be illegal without a second, specific UN resolution.²

[12]              Ibid.

[13]         Hutton Report, ĥ 103, ĥĥ 111-112.

[14]              Hutton Report, ĥĥ 128-130.