Further supplementary memorandum from
the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
IRAQ'S WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION
1. The memorandum "Building a case
against Iraq" described the British Government's diplomatic
activity from the early months of 2002 up to 20 March 2003. The
Committee has posed questions on matters relating to the dossier
of 24 September 2002 on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD)
and on the search for those weapons both before and since the
conflict with Iraq. This memorandum describes how the September
dossier was put together, answers questions about its reliability
and elaborates on the search for the WMD.
How the September dossier was put together
2. In March 2002, a first draft of a paper
for publication on Iraq's WMD was put together by the Cabinet
Office Assessments Staff. The paper was based on JIC assessments
at that time but made only brief reference to specific items of
intelligence. It was decided that this was not the right moment
to proceed with publication.
3. Following increased international and
domestic interest in the issue, on 3 September the Prime Minister
announced that the Government's assessment of Iraq's WMD capabilities,
including intelligence-related information, would be made public
in the next few weeks. It was decided the assessment should cover
the history of the WMD programmes, the history of the inspection
process, an account of current capabilities and an account of
the nature of the regime including its record of severe human
rights abuse. The purpose was to present a detailed account of
Iraqi capabilities, placed in the wider context. Since the revised
document would be making more open use of intelligence material,
it was agreed that the JIC Chairman would be in charge of the
4. Drafting was co-ordinated by the Assessments
Staff, working with representatives of Departments and Agencies.
With the agreement of the Agencies, representatives from the No
10 and FCO Press Offices were present on at least one occasion.
There were formal meetings, numerous exchanges of drafts and constant
consultations between the experts concerned. The aim was to ensure
that the public assessment was firmly based on the most recent
classified assessment and that it deployed the intelligence effectively,
taking account of the reliability of the information and demands
of source protection.
5. It was recognised that the assessment
of Iraq's capabilities should be handled separately from the historical
and human rights chapters. Parts 2 and 3, which were not intelligence-based,
were initially prepared by the FCO and subsequently edited by
the Assessments Staff. Part 1 was the work of the Assessments
Staff from the beginning.
6. During the drafting process JIC members
were asked to consult Ministers as appropriate. The Foreign Secretary
and Mr O'Brien offered comments. The Foreign Secretary made some
brief comments on layout, for example he favoured more graphics.
He also suggested including in the Prime Minister's foreword a
reference to Saddam's defiance of the UN and unprecedented use
of WMD. Mr O'Brien's comments included questions on setting out
the context better by greater use of UNSCOM reports, more on the
impact on Saddam's possession of WMD, and more references to the
sources of the information. Not all comments were reflected in
the final text. None of the comments suggested that references
to specific pieces of intelligence should be reinterpreted or
7. The draft dossier was discussed by the
JIC on two occasions in September. A final draft was circulated
to JIC members on 19 September and agreed by them out of committee.
It was sent to No 10 on 20 September. The JIC Chairman remained
in overall charge of the final publication arrangements, including
the signing off of the printer's proof on 23 September.
8. The executive summary was drafted and
co-ordinated by the same people in the Assessment Staff who were
responsible for the main report. The foreword to the dossier was
drafted in No 10 for the Prime Minister's signature. JIC members
had an opportunity to comment on this draft.
9. Until the penultimate stage the document
contained a conclusions section which summarised the main points
in the overall document. This was dropped in the final draft because
it was repetitive and superfluous.
Reliability of the dossier
10. The Government remain confident that
the dossier accurately reflected the Government's best assessment
at the time as recorded in the classified assessments. Several
judgements in it have been borne out. These include:
The illegal programme to extend the
range of the al Samoud missile. This was borne out by UNMOVIC
findings. UNMOVIC subsequently instructed that the missiles should
The illegal programme to produce
even longer-range missiles. UNMOVIC required Iraq to destroy refurbished
casting chambers previously rendered unusable by UNSCOM because
they could be used for long-range missile motors. It also acknowledged
the excessive size of Iraq's engine test stand.
Concealment of documents at the homes
of personnel associated with WMD programmes.
Undeclared UAV capabilities. A UAV
with a range far in excess of that permitted by UNMOVIC was found.
Investigations continue into the
role of the suspect mobile trailers found in Iraq.
11. Much attention has focussed on the "45
minutes" and "uranium from Africa" issues.
12. The Government have no reason to doubt
the reliability of the source of the intelligence on the 45 minutes
issue. The information came from an established, reliable, and
long-standing line of reporting. The information was consistent
with the JIC's judgement that command, control and logistics arrangements
for Iraq's chemical weapons were in place. The information was
incorporated into a classified JIC assessment in early September
and following this, was included in the dossier. The description
of the intelligence in the dossier accurately reflected the description
contained within the classified assessment. There were no further
caveats used in the classified assessment. As the Foreign Secretary
has made clear, this intelligence was included and cleared by
the JIC and not at the behest of Ministers or Special Advisers.
13. Mr Gilligan, quoting his own source,
repeatedly asserted, during his evidence session, that the source
of the intelligence report, in referring to 45 minutes, confused
the deployment time for a conventional missile with the deployment
time for a CBW missile. But in fact the source, in referring to
45 minutes, did not refer to missiles at all. Mr Gilligan's information
is not correct.
14. The assessment on uranium from Africa
drew on intelligence reporting from a number of sources. The IAEA
has confirmed that their forged documents did not come from a
British source. It is public knowledge that Niger supplied Iraq
with yellowcake in the 1980s.
15. The Government have no reason to doubt
the thoroughness of their intelligence assessments of Iraq's nuclear
programme. As the dossier described, there was additional evidence
of Iraqi efforts to restart their covert nuclear programme, such
as the recall of Iraqi nuclear scientists. Great care was taken,
as a matter of course, in the interpretation of this intelligence
as with other intelligence reports. As an indication of how much
caution was exercised in this case, the dossier stated clearly,
in relation to the aluminium tubes, that there was no definitive
intelligence that these were destined for a nuclear programme.
16. It has been claimed that the Government
was close to closing the nuclear dossier in the late 1990s. No
such decision was taken. The IAEA report of 27 January 2003 identified
key outstanding questions concerning progress by the Iraqis in
weapons design and centrifuge development prompted by a lack of
relevant documentation; the extent of external assistance from
which Iraq benefited; and the lack of evidence that Iraq had abandoned
definitively its nuclear programme. While the IAEA Director General
indicated to the Security Council that with full Iraqi cooperation
these issues could be resolved quite quickly, that co-operation
was patently not forthcoming. Even in April 2003 the IAEA said
that, although they had found no evidence to suggest that Iraq
had re-started a weapons programme, these outstanding questions
17. It has also been claimed that the Government
was close to closing the missile dossier in the late 1990s. Again,
no such decision was taken. As noted in the September 2002 dossier,
in mid-2001 the JIC noted a "step-change" in progress
on the Iraqi missile programme over the previous two years. The
dossier also stated that in early 2002 the JIC concluded that
Iraq had begun to develop missiles with a range of over 1,000
18. Ministers were briefed on Iraq's WMD
programmes by intelligence staff. The briefings that were given
to Ministers were consistent with classified JIC assessments and
with the September dossier.
19. Questions have been asked about whether
the dossier simply extrapolated from what the inspectors knew
in 1998, or whether we retested our analysis and drew on new intelligence.
Chapters 2 and 3 of Part 1 of the dossier make clear that the
Government drew heavily on recent intelligence about Iraqi efforts
to develop their programmes and capabilities since 1998. Specific
reference is made in those chapters to recent intelligence on
attempts to reverse-engineer the SCUD engine prior to the Gulf
War; to intelligence which complemented and added to what was
previously known on the important role which chemical and biological
weapons played in Iraqi military thinking, on Iraqi attempts to
retain its banned weapons systems and on Saddam's willingness
to use chemical and biological weapons. Recent intelligence was
also drawn on in relation to mobile facilities.
20. Questions have been asked about the
distribution of JIC assessments. Distribution depends on the subject
of the JIC assessment. Cabinet Ministers are sent papers of relevance
to them but can always request others if they wish. The Prime
Minister and other Ministers who are members of the Committee
on Security and Intelligence see all JIC papers. Special Advisers
who are appropriately cleared, and have a requirement to see them,
are sent JIC assessments.
The search for WMD
21. UNMOVIC and the IAEA gave regular reports
to the Security Council before the conflict. Questions have been
raised about whether intelligence was passed to UNMOVIC and IAEA
by British Agencies. Both organisations were regularly briefed
by the UK. SIS were co-operating fully with the inspectors and
British assistance to Dr Blix played a key part in the few successes
22. The first priority after the conflict
was to ensure security and to make a start on rehabilitation.
Teams were however also deployed to search for WMD. As of 21 June,
159 sites out of a total of on a US "Master List" of
578 had been examined. A number of these sites have thrown up
several more previously unknown ones. 83 of these have been visited.
Most if not all of the sites on the "Master List" were
also known to the UN, as the Iraqis were aware. They are thus
not necessarily the places which are the most likely to yield
23. The Iraq Survey Group is now deploying
to Iraq. Amongst other tasks such as the search for the former
regime's leadership, it will be responsible for the search for
Iraq's WMD programmes. Approximately 1,300 people will deploy,
of whom around 100 will be British including the Deputy Commander,
Foreign and Commonwealth Office