Gordon Brown: Britain could have avoided Iraq War but was 'misled' by US

Posted On: 
5th November 2017

US intelligence chiefs withheld a report which cast doubt over Saddam Hussein’s access to weapons of mass destruction, Gordon Brown has said.

Gordon Brown says the US Government withheld a document from 2002
PA Images

In a sensational intervention, the former Prime Minister said Britain could have avoided war with Iraq in March 2003 had Tony Blair and his team been made aware of the information.

 “We were all misled on the existence of WMDs,” Mr Brown has written in his new book, “My Life, Our Times,” which is being published on Tuesday.

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“Given Iraq had no usable chemical, biological or nuclear weapons that it could deploy and was not about to attack the coalition, then two tests of a just war were not met.

“War could not be justified as a last resort and invasion cannot now be seen as a proportionate response.”

Mr Brown said he was reassured by MI6 that evidence about WMDs was well-founded, but said a crucial set of papers from September 2002, commissioned by then US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld showed the evidence was "weak, even negligible and in key areas non-existent”.

And the revelations undermine the UK Government's Iraq Dossier from 2003 - later widely dubbed the "dodgy dossier" - which claimed the region could deploy biological weapons in 45 minutes.

“It is astonishing that none of us in the British government ever saw this American report,” Brown writes.

“It is now clear how forcibly this report challenged the official view: ‘We’ve struggled to estimate the unknown … We range from 0% to about 75% knowledge on various aspects of their [Iraq’s WMD] program’,” the report stated.

He said the report laid out that Iraq did not have "the precursors for sustained nerve-agent production’, proving “US intelligence could not identify any Iraqi sites producing the final chemical agent.”

He adds: “And as for missiles and the Iraqis’ ability to target countries such as the UK with them, which was to be the subject of dramatic claims only a few weeks later, Rumsfeld was informed: ‘We doubt all processes are in place to produce longer-range missiles’.

Mr Brown said while action was needed by the international community against tyrant Saddam Hussein following “unanimously and repeatedly” backed resolutions which were to be backed to keep “a safe and stable world order”, Britain may have changed course and avoided the “rush to war” had they not been “misinformed.

“Saddam Hussein’s continuing failure to comply with them justified international action against him,” he added.

"The question is whether it required war in March 2003. If I am right that somewhere within the American system the truth about Iraq’s lack of weapons was known, then we were not just misinformed but misled on the critical issue of WMDs."