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28 Jul, 2010 00:46

Former UN weapons inspector calls Iraq war “illegal”

The former UN chief weapons inspector has told the UK inquiry into the Iraq war the invasion was “illegal”. Hans Blix is among a group of senior military and political officials to testify before the panel.

Ex-Attorney General Lord Goldsmith advised that the war was lawful on the basis of existing UN resolutions. But Dr. Blix, who headed the UN's Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission between 1999 and 2003, said his team of inspectors had visited 500 sites but found no evidence of weapons of mass destruction.

"Some people maintain that Iraq was legal. I am of the firm view that it was an illegal war. There can be cases where it is doubtful, maybe it was permissible to go to war, but Iraq was, in my view, not one of those," Dr. Blix said.

He said he agreed with France and Russia, who argued that further UN authorisation was needed for military action.

Dr. Blix, appearing before the five-member panel, also said that both the UK and the United States relied on dubious intelligence sources prior to the invasion and based their weapons assessments on poor quality information.

The Chilcot inquiry – as it is commonly referred to after the name of its chairman, Sir John Chilcot – is an ongoing public investigation into the UK’s role in the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

"It’s not automatic that the evidence collected at this inquiry and the statements made lead to prosecutions," says British Labour Party MP Jeremy Corbyn, “but quite clearly statements made, particularly by Tony Blair and former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw concerning the legal documents that were presented to the Cabinet, become very important and there is an increasing likelihood that somebody or a particular group of people will try to launch a prosecution against Tony Blair, in particular.”