Blair: WMD not needed to justify Iraq war

The United States and Britain were justified in uprooting Iraq’s Saddam Hussein government even in the absence of weapons of mass destruction, British Prime Minster Tony Blair declared on Thursday.

    Blair attempts to sweep aside objections to Iraq invasion

    In a 40-minute address to a joint session of the US Congress in Washington, Blair said it was important to deliver what he called “democracy and oil wealth” that had been promised to the Iraqi people by the  US and British forces which defeated Saddam Hussein.


    "Finishing the fighting is not finishing the job. We promised Iraq democratic government. We will deliver it." he said.


    UN role


    He said the United Nations can and must play a central role in stemming the spread of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, calling the world body "an instrument of action as well as debate," but adding, "The Security Council should be reformed.


    "We need a new international regime on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. And we need to say clearly to UN members: if you engage in the systematic and gross abuse of human rights, in defiance of the UN charter, you cannot expect to enjoy the same privileges as those that conform to it."  


    In the Middle-East, “terrorism will not be defeated without peace between Israel and the Palestinians,” Blair said.


    "Finishing the fighting is not finishing the job".

    --UK Prime Minister Tony Blair

    Blair appealed to the US to confront “terrorism and tyranny” with values, not just guns.


    The British prime minister also underscored the importance of transatlantic ties, saying that a breakdown in relations between the US and Europe will only

    encourage global mischief.  "Don't give up on Europe. Work with it," Blair said.


    Blair is the fourth British prime minister to address a joint session of Congress, after Winston Churchill in December 1941, May 1943 and February 1952, Clement Atlee in November 1945 and Margaret Thatcher in February 1985.


    His trip to Washington comes amid allegations on both sides of the Atlantic that intelligence on Iraq and weapons of mass destruction was misused in the run-up to the invasion.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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