Blair again grilled over WMD

British Prime Minister Tony Blair reiterated on Wednesday that he stood by Britain's pre-war intelligence on Iraq as pressure on London and Washington increased to provide evidence about Baghdad's alleged weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

    Blair was accused of creating a 'culture of deceit'

    Blair was again grilled in the House of Commons over his decision to join the war against Iraq.

    Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith accused Blair and his chief communications director Alastair Campbell of creating a “culture of deceit”.

    Duncan called for Blair to sack Campbell. The government press chief had suggested a total of 11 changes to a key intelligence dossier over Iraq, in the run-up to the March war.

    Campbell and 10 Downing Street had denied allegations that London over-exaggerated reports on Iraq’s possession of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.

    Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy questioned Blair over the authenticity of one of the most controversial claims in the September dossier which alleged that Iraq could unleash biological, chemical and nuclear weapons in as little as 45 minutes.

    But Blair said the dossier was accurate.

    "I do not accept that people were misled at all. I stand entirely by what was in the dossier," the British Prime Minister.

    Australian leader defiant

    Howard says he continues to
    believe Iraq posed a threat

    The United States, Britain and Australia insist Iraq posed a global threat because of its alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction.

    Since Washington and London occupied Baghdad on 9 April, they have not found any such arms.

    Australian Prime Minister John Howard reiterated during a visit to Japan on Wednesday his support for the US-led war.

    "Those who assess intelligence for the (Australian) government presented a strong case in relation to WMD capability," he said at a press conference.

    "Those who are suggesting none will be found I think are reaching premature conclusions," said Howard.

    Howard has been criticized for participating in the war after US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director George Tenet backed down from a British claim that Iraq tried to buy nuclear material from Niger.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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