Blair's evidence: Key quotes

Key statements made by the former British PM at the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war.

    Blair said 'I would not have done Iraq if I hadn't have thought it was right, full stop' [AFP]

    Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, has appeared before the Chilcot inquiry into the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

    Below are some of the key statements given during his evidence in London.


    "Up to September 11 [2001], we thought he [Saddam] was a risk but we thought it was worth trying to contain it. The crucial thing after September 11 is that the calculus of risk changed."

    "If September 11 hadn't happened our assessment of the risk of allowing Saddam any possibility of him reconstituting his programmes would not have been the same. After September 11, our view, the American view, changed and changed dramatically."

    "The point about this act in New York was that had they been able to kill even more people than those 3,000 they would have. And so after that time, my view was you could not take risks with this issue at all."

    "Because we were advised obviously that these people would use chemical or biological weapons or a nuclear device if they could get hold of them, that completely changed our assessment of where the risks for security lay."

    "From September 11 onwards ... Iran, Libya, North Korea, Iraq ... all of this had to be brought to an end."


    "He [Saddam] had used them, he definitely had them, he was in breach of, I think, 10 United Nations resolutions on them, and so in a sense it would have required quite strong evidence the other way to be doubting the fact that he had this programme."

    "The fact is it was an appalling regime and we couldn't run the risk of such a regime being allowed to develop WMD."

    "We are saying we have to deal with his WMD ambitions. If that means regime change, so be it."

    "It was the breach of the United Nations' resolutions on WMD, that was the cause, it was then and it remains."

    "If we tried the UN route and that failed, my view was it had to be dealt with."

    2002 DOSSIER

    "It was actually received as dull and cautious at the time. It really assumed a vastly greater importance at a later time precisely because of the allegation which was an extraordinarily serious one that we, Downing Street, had deliberately falsified the intelligence which of course we hadn't.

    "I think you would have been hard pressed to have found virtually anybody who doubted he had WMD and WMD capability."


    "The only commitment I gave, and gave openly, was a commitment to deal with Saddam."

    "What I was saying to President Bush is we are going to be with you in confronting and dealing with this threat."

    "What changed after September 11 was that if necessary, and there was no other way of dealing with this threat, we were going to remove him."

    "If we tried the UN route and that failed, my view was it had to be dealt with."


    "I would have hoped to have had a United Nations situation in which everyone was on the same page and agreed. Sometimes that doesn't happen ... It was a really tough situation, yes, and in the end, as I say, what influenced me was that my judgment ultimately was that Saddam was going to remain a threat."


    "It was very very clear to me that the French, the Germans and the Russian had decided they weren't going to be in favour of this and there was a straightforward division frankly and I don't think it would have mattered how much time we had taken, they weren't going to agree that force should be used."


    "The Americans would have done that. I think President Bush actually at one point shortly before the debate said, look if it's too difficult for Britain we understand, but I took the view very strongly then that it was right for us to be with America since we believed in this too. It is true it was very divisive."


    "We were actually saying to the Americans, look, Saddam and al-Qaeda, it's two separate things but I always worried that at some point these two things would come together. Not Saddam and al-Qaeda simply, but the notion of states proliferating WMD and terrorist groups. I still think that is a major risk today."

    "There are states, Iran in particular, that are linked to this extreme and in my view misguided view about Islam. We still face this threat today."


    "I would not have done Iraq if I hadn't have thought it was right, full stop, irrespective of the Middle East."

    "I thought if we managed to get the [Middle East] peace process really pushing forward, we were more likely to get a broader and deeper coalition."

    "Just to say about the reaction of Arab leaders in the region, most of them were glad to see the back of Saddam ... He paid money to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers and he was a menace on the Middle East peace process too."


    "This isn't about a lie, or a conspiracy, or a deceit, or a deception, this is a decision."

    "And the decision I had to take was, given Saddam's history, given his use of chemical weapons, given the over one million people whose deaths he caused, given 10 years of breaking UN resolutions, could we take the risk of this man reconstituting his weapons programme?"

    "It's a decision in the end. I believed, and in the end so did the cabinet and so did parliament incidentally, that we were right not to run that risk."

    WHAT IF?

    "Even if [UN weapons inspector Hans] Blix had continued, the fact is he would never have got the truth out of Saddam and the leading people in the regime."

    "Sometimes what is important is not to ask the March 2003 question but to ask the 2010 question. Supposing we had backed off this military action, supposing we had left Saddam and his sons who were going to follow him in charge of Iraq, people who had used chemical weapons, caused the death of over a million people?"

    "What we now know is that he retained absolutely the intent and the intellectual know-how to restart a nuclear and a chemical weapons programme when the inspectors were out and the sanctions changed."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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