LONDON : Britain took part in the 2003 Iraq war on the basis of flawed intelligence and before peaceful options for disarming Saddam Hussein’s regime had been exhausted, a long-awaited inquiry has ruled.
The inquiry by John Chilcot, a retired civil servant, said Britain’s intervention had gone “badly wrong” and the U.K. government had failed to achieve the objects it had set for itself.
Announcing the results of his seven-year inquiry in central London Wednesday morning, Chilcot said he was not expressing a view on whether military action in Iraq was legal.
But he added: “We have however concluded that the circumstances in which it was decided that there was a legal basis for military action were far from satisfactory.”
The U.S. and U.K. led a coalition of countries that invaded Iraq in March 2003 on the pretext of disarming the Saddam Hussein regime of chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction it was said to possess.
No such weapons were found in the country after the regime was toppled.
Chilcot said the then U.K. Prime Minister, Tony Blair, was still being told by British intelligence officials three days before the invasion began that Iraq possessed the weapons.
“It is now clear that policy on Iraq was made on the basis of flawed intelligence and assessments. They were not challenged, and they should have been,” he said.
Peaceful options ‘still available’
A 150-page summary of Chilcot’s findings released following his statement said peaceful options were still available when British lawmakers voted to authorize U.K.’s involvement in the conflict.
“At the time of the parliamentary vote of 18 March , diplomatic options had not been exhausted,” it said.
“The point had not been reached where military action was the last resort.”
Chilcot added in his statement: “The judgments about the severity of the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction — WMD — were presented with a certainty that was not justified.
“Despite explicit warnings, the consequences of the invasion were underestimated. The planning and preparations for Iraq after Saddam Hussein were wholly inadequate.
“The government failed to achieve its stated objectives.”
‘My son died in vain’
In a press conference shortly after Chilcot had finished speaking, some of the families of British soldiers killed during the conflict said they would examine the report’s findings and were considering taking legal action.
Reg Keys, whose son Tom died in 2003, told reporters: “The only answer I can give to that is that when I look at Iraq on my TV screens today with the 200-plus deaths that took place the other day I can only conclude that unfortunately and sadly my son died in vain.” —-AA