Supplementary memorandum from the Foreign
and Commonwealth Office
RESPONSE TO QUESTIONS (IN ITALICS) FROM THE
COMMITTEE, 19 JUNE 2003
Q1: On which dates since 11 September 2001
was Iraq on the Agenda for a meeting of the Defence and Overseas
A: The Defence and Overseas Policy Committee
(DOP) last met on 28 June 2001. The "War Cabinet" (Ad
Hoc Ministerial Committee on Iraq) had a slightly wider membership
than DOP and met on 29 occasions between 19 March and 28 April
2003 inclusive. There had been a large number of other Ministerial
meetings on Iraq chaired by the Prime Minister between July 2002,
to date. A Ministerial Committee on Iraq Rehabilitation chaired
by the Foreign Secretary has, with one exception, met weekly since
10 April 2003.
Q2: On which dates since 11 September 2001
was Iraq (a) on the Agenda of and (b) discussed at a meeting of
A: Iraq has been on the agenda of the Cabinet
since March 2002, when it was the subject of substantive discussion.
There was a special meeting of the Cabinet on Monday 23 September
2002, in advance of the following day's Parliamentary debate on
Iraq (for which both Houses had been recalled). This Cabinet was
dominated by discussion on Iraq. Iraq was the subject of discussion
at every Cabinet meeting thereafterie at 28 meetings between
23 September 2002 and 22 May 2002 (inclusive).
Q3: Is there any truth in the allegation
in the Independent of 9 June that the March 2002 JIC paper on
Iraq was "suppressed" after it was put up? Does the
FCO have anything further to say about this paper?
A: No JIC assessments were suppressed. The
Assessments Staff, in coordination with the intelligence agencies,
DIS and policy departments, including the FCO, prepared a paper
in March on WMD in Iraq intended for possible publication. This
document was based upon JIC assessments at that time, but made
only brief reference to intelligence material. The September document
was much more detailed and included intelligence issued between
March and September 2002.
Q4: Was the wording in the September Dossiers
as a whole the same in substance as in the JIC assessments on
which it was based? Please list any material differences between
A: The dossiers accurately reflected the
judgements from the classified JIC assessments. The draft dossier
was circulated to JIC members for comment in advance of publication.
The JIC Chairman approved its contents.
Q5: Is there any truth in the reports in
the 15 June edition of the Independent on Sunday that chemical
and biological weapons protection equipment was removed from Cyprus
for use in the Gulf? If so, did this reflect a reassessment of
the missile threat to Cyprus as set out in the September Dossier?
A: During preparations for operations in
Iraq, stocks of Combopens and other equipment were moved between
various sites used by UK forces, including both to and from Cyprus.
Such movement is a normal part of the logistics process. At the
outbreak of hostilities, there were sufficient Combopens in theatre
for all UK forces, including those in Cyprus. There was no change
to our assessment of the threat from Iraqi ballistic missiles,
including to Cyprus.
Q6: I enclose a copy of comments received
from Dr Tom Inch. The Committee would be grateful for the FCO's
observations on each of the points he makes.
A: Answers to most of the questions raised
by Dr Inch are attached.
We will seek to answer the remaining question as soon as possible.
P17 para 2. Was there any evidence that the attempts
at procurement were successful?
A: We are seeking an answer to this question.
P18 para 3. What was the evidence that mustard
could be made in weeks and nerve agents in months? This statement
suggests the intelligence source knew the facilities to be used
and how the facilities would be used.
A: This was an assessment not based on specific
intelligence but on such factors as the availability of precursors
and the ease of production. We judged that it would take the Iraqis
longer to start production of nerve agent because the process
is generally more complicated. We did not know where production
would take place.
P19 para 5. It is important to find what the raw
data actually said about 45 minutes.
A: The JIC assessment said that some CBW
weapons could be delivered to units within 45 minutes of an order
being issued. That is why the dossier said they could be "deployed"
within 45 minutes.
P19 para 8. If it is known that Iraq continued
to produce nerve agent then it should be known where that was
when the intelligence was obtained. Post event chemical analysis
of the site should be able to confirm the allegation.
A: P19 para 8 refers to chemical agent production,
not just nerve agent production. But the intelligence did not
identify specific sites where this had taken place. In general,
we agree that post-event chemical analysis of sites may be able
to confirm assessments, although it should be recognised that
Iraq carried out a large campaign of site sanitation.
P20 para 8. Similarly analysis should reveal whether
there was misuse of the precursor chemicals at Fallujah2.
A: There was no specific evidence of CW
precursor or CW agent production at Fallujah after the 1991 Gulf
War other than the production of chlorine and phenol which could
support CW agent and precursor production. Inspection and chemical
analysis could reveal evidence of further CW-related activity.
P20 para 9. More information should be sought
on the suppliers of the illegal equipment and whether the Inspectors
visited this complex on their return last year.
A: The UN inspectors did visit Ibn Sina
Company at Tamriyah several times but they did not carry out extensive
forensic examinations. The dossier said that Ibn Sina provided
a capability that could be used, not that it had been used. The
problem of dual-use facilities was highlighted on page 21 of the
P22 para 12. More information is required on whether
Iraq has a legitimate castor oil industry. Also we need to know
whether the plant construction would allow the easy production
A: Iraq does have a legitimate castor oil
industry, although we assess that the quantities produced are
in excess of requirements and that for at least one of the uses,
hydraulic fluid, castor oil could be more efficiently replaced
by synthetic fluids. We assess that Iraq did have the capability
to extract ricin from castor beans.
P22 para 14. I am puzzled by the importance given
in the dossier to aflatoxins. The materials are not particularly
acutely toxic and in solution may not have been weaponised in
high concentration. For the sake of the overall credibility of
the dossier some indication of the real significance of this information
would be helpful.
A: The key point in this paragraph is that
Iraq acknowledged that it had filled two types bombs and al Hussein
warheads with aflatoxin as part of its BW programme. The rationale
for Iraq's choice of agent was beyond the scope of the dossier.
The longer term effects of aflatoxin as a carcinogen and its ability
to cause liver damage are well documented.
P24 para 16. The summary groups anthrax, botulinum,
aflatoxins and ricin together and suggests a common biological
agent production capability. This seems odd since the biological
agent anthrax is very different from the others which are chemical
toxins. Also ricin is very different since it is not cultured
but harvested from a cultivated crop.
A: They are grouped together based on their
deviation from biological materials not on any particular production
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
24 June 2003
73 Dr Inch's questions are reproduced here in italics,
and published with his memorandum, pp Ev. Back