A lot of people would like to see this issue disappear, but thankfully I can't see that happening. It was the given reason for war. We where told
there was hard evidence. We where told that it was vital for these weapons to be removed.
Now we are told it's not important.
A couple of stories from today. From the Independant:
"So, Mr Straw, why did we go to war?"
* Jack Straw, 21 February 2003: 'Some of these weapons are deployable within 45 minutes of an order to use them'
* Jack Straw, 14 May 2003: Asked of the need to find weapons of mass destruction... 'It's not crucial'
Mr Straw was accused of rewriting history after he appeared to undermine the Government's confident claim that Saddam held up to 10,000 litres of
anthrax, declaring: "Ten thousand litres is one third of one petrol tanker. Whether or not we are able to find one third of one petrol tanker in a
country twice the size of France remains to be seen."
Challenged on the importance of a fresh weapons find, he said: "It's not crucially important for this reason ... The evidence in respect of Iraq was
so strong that the Security Council on the 8th of November said unanimously that Iraq's proliferation and possession of the weapons of mass
destruction and unlawful missile systems, as well as its defiance of the United Nations, pose – and I quote – 'a threat to international peace and
Peter Kilfoyle, a former defence minister, said: "Jack Straw is trying to reinvent history. All these claims about WMD are built on sand. If they do
not find these weapons, it takes away the only conceivable justification for conducting this war.
"It shows the real reasons for this war: the superpower flexing its muscles and looking after resources, in this case petroleum."
From the Telegraph, Robin Cook is again making the case for U.N weapons inspectors to be allowed back:
"The failure of the coalition to find any trace of the "fabled" weapons of mass destruction in the five weeks since the fall of Baghdad threw
serious doubt on Tony Blair's justification for the invasion of Iraq, said Mr Cook, who quit the Cabinet because of his opposition to war.
If Saddam had really possessed weapons capable of posing a threat to Britain and the US - as Mr Blair and US President George Bush claimed - they
would have been found by now, said Mr Cook.
He said he was "shocked" by the coalition's apparent determination to sideline the United Nations in the post-war reconstruction of Iraq and to
exclude chief inspector Hans Blix's Unmovic team from the hunt for weapons programmes.
A draft resolution tabled by the US and UK at the Security Council would "marginalise" the international body, said Mr Cook. Mr Blair had made a
"big mistake" in undermining the UN in the run-up to war and risked compounding his error now.
Mr Cook told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We were told by President Bush that this was a pre-emptive strike and it was necessary to get Saddam
before he hit us.
"If he had anything with which to hit us, we would have found it by now. A nuclear bomb requires a nuclear reactor. A big missile system requires a
big industrial factory. You can't hide these things.
"We were told we were going in there to disarm the weapons of mass destruction. If it was so compelling, so urgent, that we had to go in and disarm
these weapons that posed such a big threat to us that it justified a pre-emptive strike, it is rather curious that they can't find these weapons"