Executive Summary of the Iraq Inquiry


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The UK decision to support US military action


President Bush decided at the end of 2001 to pursue a policy of regime change in Iraq.

The UK shared the broad objective of finding a way to deal with Saddam Hussein's defiance of UN Security Council resolutions and his assumed weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programmes. However, based on consistent legal advice, the UK could not share the US objective of regime change. The UK Government therefore set as its objective the disarmament of Iraq in accordance with the obligations imposed in a series of Security Council resolutions.

UK policy before 9/11

Before the attacks on the US on 11 September 2001 (9/11), the UK was pursuing a strategy of containment based on a new sanctions regime to improve international support and incentivise Iraq's co-operation, narrowing and deepening the sanctions regime to focus only on prohibited items and at the same time improving financial controls to reduce the flow of illicit funds to Saddam Hussein.

When UK policy towards Iraq was formally reviewed and agreed by the Ministerial Committee on Defence and Overseas Policy (DOP) in May 1999, the objectives towards Iraq were defined as:

"... in the short term, to reduce the threat Saddam poses to the region including by eliminating his weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programmes; and, in the longer term, to reintegrate a territorially intact Iraq as a law-abiding member of the international community."1

Notes (hide):

1: Joint Memorandum by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and the Secretary of State for Defence, 17 May 1999, 'Iraq Future Strategy'.

The policy of containment was seen as the "only viable way" to pursue those objectives. A "policy of trying to topple Saddam would command no useful international support". Iraq was unlikely to accept the package immediately but "might be persuaded to acquiesce eventually".

After prolonged discussion about the way ahead, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 1284 in December 1999, although China, France and Russia abstained.2

Notes (hide):

2: UN Security Council Press Release, 17 December 1999, Security Council Establishes New Monitoring Commission For Iraq Adopting Resolution 1284 (1999) By Vote of 11-0-4 (SC/6775).

The resolution established:

  • a new inspectorate, the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) (which Dr Hans Blix was subsequently appointed to lead);

  • a timetable to identify and agree a work programme; and

  • the principle that, if the inspectors reported co-operation in key areas, that would lead to the suspension of economic sanctions.3

Notes (hide):

3: UN Security Council, '4084th Meeting Friday 17 December 1999' (S/PV.4084).

Resolution 1284 described Iraq's obligations to comply with the disarmament standards of resolution 687 and other related resolutions as the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance"; and provided that the Security Council would decide what was required of Iraq for the implementation of each task and that it should be "clearly defined and precise".

The resolution was also a deliberate compromise which changed the criterion for the suspension, and eventual lifting, of sanctions from complete disarmament to tests which would be based on judgements by UNMOVIC on the progress made in completing identified tasks.

Iraq refused to accept the provisions of resolution 1284, including the re-admission of weapons inspectors. Concerns about Iraq's activities in the absence of inspectors increased.

The US Presidential election in November 2000 prompted a further UK review of the operation of the containment policy (see Section 1.2). There were concerns about how long the policy could be sustained and what it could achieve.

There were also concerns over both the continued legal basis for operations in the No-Fly Zones (NFZs) and the conduct of individual operations.4

In an Assessment on 1 November, the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) judged that Saddam Hussein felt "little pressure to negotiate over ... resolution 1284 because the proceeds of oil smuggling and illicit trade have increased significantly this year, and more countries are increasing diplomatic contacts and trade with Iraq".5

The JIC also judged:

"Saddam would only contemplate co-operation with [resolution] 1284, and the return of inspectors ... if it could be portrayed as a victory. He will not agree to co-operate unless:

  • there is a UN-agreed timetable for the lifting of sanctions. Saddam suspects that the US would not agree to sanctions lift while he remained in power;

  • he is able to negotiate with the UN in advance to weaken the inspection provisions. His ambitions to rebuild Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programmes makes him hostile to intrusive inspections or any other constraints likely to be effective.

"Before accepting 1284, Saddam will try to obtain the abolition of the No-Fly Zones. He is also likely to demand that the US should abandon its stated aim to topple the Iraqi regime."

In November 2000, Mr Blair's "preferred option" was described as the implementation of 1284, enabling inspectors to return and sanctions to be suspended.6

In December 2000, the British Embassy Washington reported growing pressure to change course from containment to military action to oust Saddam Hussein, but no decision to change policy or to begin military planning had been taken by President Clinton.7

The Key Judgements of a JIC Assessment in February 2001 included:

  • There was "broad international consensus to maintain the arms embargo at least as long as Saddam remains in power. Saddam faces no economic pressure to accept... [resolution]1284 because he is successfully undermining the economic sanctions regime."

  • "Through abuse of the UN Oil-for-Food [OFF] programme and smuggling of oil and other goods" it was estimated that Saddam Hussein would "be able to appropriate in the region of $1.5bn to $1.8bn in cash and goods in 2001", and there was "scope for earning even more".

  • "Iranian interdiction efforts" had "significantly reduced smuggling down the Gulf", but Saddam Hussein had "compensated by exploiting land routes to Turkey and Syria".

  • "Most countries" believed that economic sanctions were "ineffective, counterproductive and should now be lifted. Without active enforcement, the economic sanctions regime" would "continue to erode".8

The Assessment also stated:

  • Saddam Hussein needed funds "to maintain his military and security apparatus and secure its loyalty".

  • Despite the availability of funds, Iraq had been slow to comply with UN recommendations on food allocation. Saddam needed "the Iraqi people to suffer to underpin his campaign against sanctions".

  • Encouraged by the success of Iraq's border trade agreement with Turkey, "front-line states" were "not enforcing sanctions".

  • There had been a "significant increase in the erosion of sanctions over the past six months".

When Mr Blair had his first meeting with President Bush at Camp David in late February 2001, the US and UK agreed on the need for a policy which was more widely supported in the Middle East region.9 Mr Blair had concluded that public presentation needed to be improved. He suggested that the approach should be presented as a "deal" comprising four elements:

Notes (hide):

9: Letter Sawers to Cowper-Coles, 24 February 2001, 'Prime Minister's Talks with President Bush, Camp David, 23 February 2001'.

  • do the right thing by the Iraqi people, with whom we have no quarrel;

  • tighten weapons controls on Saddam Hussein;

  • retain financial control on Saddam Hussein; and

  • retain our ability to strike.

The stated position of the UK Government in February 2001 was that containment had been broadly successful.10

Notes (hide):

10: House of Commons,Official Report, 26 February 2001, column 620.

During the summer of 2001, the UK had been exploring the way forward with the US, Russia and France on a draft Security Council resolution to put in place a "smart sanctions" regime.11 But there was no agreement on the way ahead between the UK, the US, China, France and Russia, the five Permanent Members of the UN Security Council.

Mr Blair told the Inquiry that, until 11 September 2001, the UK had a policy of containment, but sanctions were eroding.12 The policy was "partially successful", but it did not mean that Saddam Hussein was "not still developing his [prohibited] programmes".

Notes (hide):

12: Public hearing, 21 January 2011, page 8.

The impact of 9/11

The attacks on the US on 11 September 2001 changed perceptions about the severity and likelihood of the threat from international terrorism. They showed that attacks intended to cause large-scale civilian casualties could be mounted anywhere in the world.

In response to that perception of a greater threat, governments felt a responsibility to act to anticipate and reduce risks before they turned into a threat. That was described to the Inquiry by a number of witnesses as a change to the "calculus of risk" after 9/11.

In the wake of the attacks, Mr Blair declared that the UK would stand "shoulder to shoulder" with the US to defeat and eradicate international terrorism.13

Notes (hide):

13: The National Archives, 11 September 2001, September 11 attacks: Prime Minister's statement.

The JIC assessed on 18 September that the attacks on the US had "set a new benchmark for terrorist atrocity", and that terrorists seeking comparable impact might try to use chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear devices.14 Only Islamic extremists such as those who shared Usama Bin Laden's agenda had the motivation to pursue attacks with the deliberate aim of causing maximum casualties.

Notes (hide):

14: JIC Assessment, 18 September 2001, 'UK Vulnerability to Major Terrorist Attack'.

Throughout the autumn of 2001, Mr Blair took an active and leading role in building a coalition to act against that threat, including military action against Al Qaida and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. He also emphasised the potential risk of terrorists acquiring and using nuclear, biological or chemical weapons, and the dangers of inaction.

In November 2001, the JIC assessed that Iraq had played no role in the 9/11 attacks on the US and that practical co-operation between Iraq and Al Qaida was "unlikely".15 There was no "credible evidence of covert transfers of WMD-related technology and expertise to terrorist groups". It was possible that Iraq might use WMD in terrorist attacks, but only if the regime was under serious and imminent threat of collapse.

The UK continued actively to pursue a strengthened policy of containing Iraq, through a revised and more targeted sanctions regime and seeking Iraq's agreement to the return of inspectors as required by resolution 1284 (1999).

The adoption on 29 November 2001 of resolution 1382 went some way towards that objective. But support for economic sanctions was eroding and whether Iraq would ever agree to re-admit weapons inspectors and allow them to operate without obstruction was in doubt.

Although there was no evidence of links between Iraq and Al Qaida, Mr Blair encouraged President Bush to address the issue of Iraq in the context of a wider strategy to confront terrorism after the attacks of 9/11. He sought to prevent precipitate military action by the US which he considered would undermine the success of the coalition which had been established for action against international terrorism.

President Bush's remarks16 on 26 November renewed UK concerns that US attention was turning towards military action in Iraq.

Notes (hide):

16: The White House, 26 November 2001, The President Welcomes Aid Workers Rescued from Afghanistan.

Following a discussion with President Bush on 3 December, Mr Blair sent him a paper on a second phase of the war against terrorism.17

On Iraq, Mr Blair suggested a strategy for regime change in Iraq. This would build over time until the point was reached where "military action could be taken if necessary", without losing international support.

The strategy was based on the premise that Iraq was a threat which had to be dealt with, and it had multiple diplomatic strands. It entailed renewed demands for Iraq to comply with the obligations imposed by the Security Council and for the re-admission of weapons inspectors, and a readiness to respond firmly if Saddam Hussein failed to comply.

Mr Blair did not, at that stage, have a ground invasion of Iraq or immediate military action of any sort in mind. The strategy included mounting covert operations in support of those "with the ability to topple Saddam". But Mr Blair did state that, when a rebellion occurred, the US and UK should "back it militarily".

That was the first step towards a policy of possible intervention in Iraq.

A number of issues, including the legal basis for any military action, would need to be resolved as part of developing the strategy.

The UK Government does not appear to have had any knowledge at that stage that President Bush had asked General Tommy Franks, Commander in Chief, US Central Command, to review the military options for removing Saddam Hussein, including options for a conventional ground invasion.

Mr Blair also emphasised the threat which Iraq might pose in the future. That remained a key part of his position in the months that followed.

In his annual State of the Union speech on 29 January 2002, President Bush described the regimes in North Korea and Iran as "sponsors of terrorism".18 He added that Iraq had continued to:

Notes (hide):

18: The White House, 29 January 2002, The President's State of the Union Address.

"... flaunt its hostility towards America and to support terror ... The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade. This is a regime that has already used poison gas to murder thousands of its own citizens ... This is a regime that agreed to international inspections – then kicked out the inspectors. This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world."

President Bush stated:

"States like these [North Korea, Iran and Iraq], and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction these regimes pose a grave and growing danger."

From late February 2002, Mr Blair and Mr Straw began publicly to argue that Iraq was a threat which had to be dealt with. Iraq needed to disarm or be disarmed.

The urgency and certainty with which the position was stated reflected the ingrained belief that Saddam Hussein's regime retained chemical and biological warfare capabilities, was determined to preserve and if possible enhance its capabilities, including at some point in the future a nuclear capability, and was pursuing an active policy of deception and concealment. It also reflected the wider context in which the policy was being discussed with the US.

On 26 February 2002, Sir Richard Dearlove, the Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service, advised that the US Administration had concluded that containment would not work, was drawing up plans for a military campaign later in the year, and was considering presenting Saddam Hussein with an ultimatum for the return of inspectors while setting the bar "so high that Saddam Hussein would be unable to comply".19

Notes (hide):

19: Letter C to Manning, 26 February 2002, 'US Policy on Iraq'.

The following day, the JIC assessed that Saddam Hussein feared a US military attack on the scale of the 1991 military campaign to liberate Kuwait but did not regard such an attack as inevitable; and that Iraqi opposition groups would not act without "visible and sustained US military support on the ground".20

At Cabinet on 7 March, Mr Blair and Mr Straw emphasised that no decisions to launch further military action had been taken and any action taken would be in accordance with international law.

The discussion in Cabinet was couched in terms of Iraq's need to comply with its obligations, and future choices by the international community on how to respond to the threat which Iraq represented.

Cabinet endorsed the conclusion that Iraq's WMD programmes posed a threat to peace, and endorsed a strategy of engaging closely with the US Government in order to shape policy and its presentation. It did not discuss how that might be achieved.

Mr Blair sought and was given information on a range of issues before his meeting with President Bush at Crawford on 5 and 6 April. But no formal and agreed analysis of the issues and options was sought or produced, and there was no collective consideration of such advice.

Mr Straw's advice of 25 March proposed that the US and UK should seek an ultimatum to Saddam Hussein to re-admit weapons inspectors.21 That would provide a route for the UK to align itself with the US without adopting the US objective of regime change. This reflected advice that regime change would be unlawful.

At Crawford, Mr Blair offered President Bush a partnership in dealing urgently with the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. He proposed that the UK and the US should pursue a strategy based on an ultimatum calling on Iraq to permit the return of weapons inspectors or face the consequences.22

Notes (hide):

22: Letter Manning to McDonald, 8 April 2002, 'Prime Minister's Visit to the United States: 5-7 April'.

President Bush agreed to consider the idea but there was no decision until September 2002.

In the subsequent press conference on 6 April, Mr Blair stated that "doing nothing" was not an option: the threat of WMD was real and had to be dealt with.23 The lesson of 11 September was to ensure that "groups" were not allowed to develop a capability they might use.

Notes (hide):

23: The White House, 6 April 2002,President Bush, Prime Minister Blair Hold Press Conference.

In his memoir, Mr Blair characterised the message that he and President Bush had delivered to Saddam Hussein as "change the regime attitude on WMD inspections or face the prospect of changing regime".24

Notes (hide):

24: Blair T.A Journey. Hutchinson, 2010.

Documents written between April and July 2002 reported that, in the discussion with President Bush at Crawford, Mr Blair had set out a number of considerations in relation to the development of policy on Iraq. These were variously described as:

  • The UN inspectors needed to be given every chance of success.

  • The US should take action within a multilateral framework with international support, not unilateral action.

  • A public information campaign should be mounted to explain the nature of Saddam Hussein's regime and the threat he posed.

  • Any military action would need to be within the framework of international law.

  • The military strategy would need to ensure Saddam Hussein could be removed quickly and successfully.

  • A convincing "blueprint" was needed for a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq which would be acceptable to both Iraq's population and its neighbours.

  • The US should advance the Middle East Peace Process in order to improve the chances of gaining broad support in the Middle East for military action against Iraq; and to pre-empt accusations of double standards.

  • Action should enhance rather than diminish regional stability.

  • Success would be needed in Afghanistan to demonstrate the benefits of regime change.

Mr Blair considered that he was seeking to influence US policy by describing the key elements for a successful strategy to secure international support for any military action against Iraq.

Key Ministers and some of their most senior advisers thought these were the conditions that would need to be met if the UK was to participate in US-led military action.

By July, no progress had been made on the ultimatum strategy and Iraq was still refusing to admit weapons inspectors as required by resolution 1284 (1999).

The UK Government was concerned that the US Administration was contemplating military action in circumstances where it would be very difficult for the UK to participate in or, conceivably, to support that action.

To provide the basis for a discussion with the US, a Cabinet Office paper of 19 July, 'Iraq: Conditions for Military Action', identified the conditions which would be necessary before military action would be justified and the UK could participate in such action.25

Notes (hide):

25: Paper Cabinet Office, 19 July 2002, 'Iraq: Conditions for Military Action'.

The Cabinet Office paper stated that Mr Blair had said at Crawford:

"... that the UK would support military action to bring about regime change, provided that certain conditions were met:

  • efforts had been made to construct a coalition/shape public opinion,

  • the Israel-Palestine Crisis was quiescent, and

  • the options for action to eliminate Iraq's WMD through the UN weapons inspectors had been exhausted.""

The Cabinet Office paper also identified the need to address the issue of whether the benefits of military action would outweigh the risks.

The potential mismatch between the timetable and work programme for UNMOVIC stipulated in resolution 1284 (1999) and the US plans for military action was recognised by officials during the preparation of the Cabinet Office paper.26

Notes (hide):

26: Paper [Draft] Cabinet Office, 'Iraq: Conditions for Military Action' attached to Minute McKane to Bowen, 2. July 2002, 'Iraq'.

The issue was not addressed in the final paper submitted to Ministers on 19 July.27

Notes (hide):

27: Paper Cabinet Office, 19 July 2002, 'Iraq: Conditions for Military Action'.

Sir Richard Dearlove reported that he had been told that the US had already taken a decision on action – "the question was only how and when"; and that he had been told it intended to set the threshold on weapons inspections so high that Iraq would not be able to hold up US policy.28

Notes (hide):

28: Report, 22 July 2002, 'Iraq [C's account of discussions with Dr Rice]'.

Mr Blair's meeting with Ministerial colleagues and senior officials on 23 July was not seen by those involved as having taken decisions.29

Further advice and background material were commissioned, including on the possibility of a UN ultimatum to Iraq and the legal basis for action. The record stated:

"We should work on the assumption that the UK would take part in any military action. But we needed a fuller picture of US planning before we could take any firm decisions. CDS [the Chief of the Defence Staff, Admiral Sir Michael Boyce] should tell the US military that we were considering a range of options."

Mr Blair was advised that there would be "formidable obstacles" to securing a new UN resolution incorporating an ultimatum without convincing evidence of a greatly increased threat from Iraq.30 A great deal more work would be needed to clarify what the UK was seeking and how its objective might best be achieved.

Mr Blair's Note to President Bush of 28 July sought to persuade President Bush to use the UN to build a coalition for action by seeking a partnership between the UK and the US and setting out a framework for action.31

The Note began:

"I will be with you, whatever. But this is the moment to assess bluntly the difficulties. The planning on this and the strategy are the toughest yet. This is not Kosovo. This is not Afghanistan. It is not even the Gulf War. "The military part of this is hazardous but I will concentrate mainly on the political context for success."

Mr Blair stated that getting rid of Saddam Hussein was:

"... the right thing to do. He is a potential threat. He could be contained. But containment ... is always risky. His departure would free up the region. And his regime is ... brutal and inhumane ..."

Mr Blair told President Bush that the UN was the simplest way to encapsulate a "casus belli" in some defining way, with an ultimatum to Iraq once military forces started to build up in October. That might be backed by a UN resolution.

Mr Blair thought it unlikely that Saddam Hussein intended to allow inspectors to return. If he did, the JIC had advised that Iraq would obstruct the work of the inspectors. That could result in a material breach of the obligations imposed by the UN.

A workable military plan to ensure the collapse of the regime would be required.

The Note reflected Mr Blair's own views. The proposals had not been discussed or agreed with his colleagues.

Decision to take the UN route

Sir David Manning, Mr Blair's Foreign Policy Adviser, told President Bush that it would be impossible for the UK to take part in any action against Iraq unless it went through the UN.

When Mr Blair spoke to President Bush on 31 July the "central issue of a casus belli" and the need for further work on the optimal route to achieve that was discussed.32 Mr Blair said that he wanted to explore whether the UN was the right route to set an ultimatum or whether it would be an obstacle.

Notes (hide):

32: Rycroft to McDonald, 31 July 2002, 'Iraq: Prime Minister's Phone Call with President Bush, 31 July'.

In late August, the FCO proposed a strategy of coercion, using a UN resolution to issue an ultimatum to Iraq to admit the weapons inspectors and disarm. The UK was seeking a commitment from the Security Council to take action in the event that Saddam Hussein refused or subsequently obstructed the inspectors.

Reflecting the level of public debate and concern, Mr Blair decided in early September that an explanation of why action was needed to deal with Iraq should be published.

In his press conference at Sedgefield on 3 September, Mr Blair indicated that time and patience were running out and that there were difficulties with the existing policy of containment.33 He also announced the publication of the Iraq dossier, stating that:

Notes (hide):

33: The National Archives, 3 September 2002, PM press conference [at Sedgefield].

"... people will see that there is no doubt at all the United Nations resolutions that Saddam is in breach of are there for a purpose. He [Saddam Hussein] is without any question, still trying to develop that chemical, biological, potentially nuclear capability and to allow him to do so without any let or hindrance, just to say, we [sic] can carry on and do it, I think would be irresponsible."

President Bush decided in the meeting of the National Security Council on 7 September to take the issue of Iraq back to the UN.

The UK was a key ally whose support was highly desirable for the US. The US Administration had been left in no doubt that the UK Government needed the issue of Iraq to be taken back to the Security Council before it would be able to participate in military action in Iraq.

The objective of the subsequent discussions between President Bush and Mr Blair at Camp David was, as Mr Blair stated in the press conference before the discussions, to work out the strategy.34

Notes (hide):

34: The White House, 7 September 2002, President Bush, Prime Minister Blair Discuss Keeping the Peace.

Mr Blair told President Bush that he was in no doubt about the need to deal with Saddam Hussein.35

Notes (hide):

35: Minute Manning to Prime Minister, 8 September 2002, 'Your Visit to Camp David on 7 September: Conversation with President Bush'.

Although at that stage no decision had been taken on which military package might be offered to the US for planning purposes, Mr Blair also told President Bush that, if it came to war, the UK would take a significant military role.

In his speech to the General Assembly on 12 September, President Bush set out his view of the "grave and gathering danger" posed by Saddam Hussein and challenged the UN to act to address Iraq's failure to meet the obligations imposed by the Security Council since 1990.36 He made clear that, if Iraq defied the UN, the world must hold Iraq to account and the US would "work with the UN Security Council for the necessary resolutions". But the US would not stand by and do nothing in the face of the threat.

Notes (hide):

36: The White House, 12 September 2002, President's Remarks to the United Nations General Assembly.

Statements made by China, France and Russia in the General Assembly debate after President Bush's speech highlighted the different positions of the five Permanent Members of the Security Council, in particular about the role of the Council in deciding whether military action was justified.

The Government dossier on Iraq was published on 24 September.37 It was designed to "make the case" and secure Parliamentary (and public) support for the Government's policy that action was urgently required to secure Iraq's disarmament.

Notes (hide):

37: Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction. The Assessment of the British Government, 24 September 2002.

In his statement to Parliament on 24 September and in his answers to subsequent questions, Mr Blair presented Iraq's past, current and potential future capabilities as evidence of the severity of the potential threat from Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. He said that at some point in the future that threat would become a reality.38

Notes (hide):

38: House of Commons,Official Report, 24 September 2002, columns 1-23.

Mr Blair wrote his statement to the House of Commons himself and chose the arguments to make clear his perception of the threat and why he believed that there was an "overwhelming" case for action to disarm Iraq.

Addressing the question of why Saddam Hussein had decided in mid-September, but not before, to admit the weapons inspectors, Mr Blair stated that the answer was in the dossier, and it was because:

"... his chemical, biological and nuclear programme is not an historic left-over from 1998. The inspectors are not needed to clean up the old remains. His weapons of mass destruction programme is active detailed and growing. The policy of containment is not working. The weapons of mass destruction programme is not shut down; it is up and running now."

Mr Blair posed, and addressed, three questions: "Why Saddam?"; "Why now?"; and "Why should Britain care?"

On the question "Why Saddam?", Mr Blair said that two things about Saddam Hussein stood out: "He had used these weapons in Iraq" and thousands had died, and he had used them during the war with Iran "in which one million people died"; and the regime had "no moderate elements to appeal to".

On the question "Why now?", Mr Blair stated:

"I agree I cannot say that this month or next, even this year or next, Saddam will use his weapons. But I can say that if the international community, having made the call for his disarmament, now, at this moment, at the point of decision, shrugs its shoulders and walks away, he will draw the conclusion dictators faced with a weakening will always draw: that the international community will talk but not act, will use diplomacy but not force. We know, again from our history, that diplomacy not backed by the threat of force has never worked with dictators and never will."

Negotiation of resolution 1441

There were significant differences between the US and UK positions, and between them and China, France and Russia about the substance of the strategy to be adopted, including the role of the Security Council in determining whether peaceful means had been exhausted and the use of force to secure disarmament was justified.

Those differences resulted in difficult negotiations over more than eight weeks before the unanimous adoption of resolution 1441 on 8 November 2002.

When President Bush made his speech on 12 September, the US and UK had agreed the broad approach, but not the substance of the proposals to be put to the UN Security Council or the tactics.

Dr Naji Sabri, the Iraqi Foreign Minister, wrote to Mr Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary-General, on 16 September to inform him that, following the series of talks between Iraq and the UN in New York and Vienna between March and July 2002 and the latest round in New York on 14 and 15 September, Iraq had decided "to allow the return of United Nations inspectors to Iraq without conditions".39

Notes (hide):

39: UN Security Council, 16 September 2002, 'Letter dated 16 September from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iraq addressed to the Secretary-General', attached to 'Letter dated 16 September from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council' (S/2002/1034).

The US and UK immediately expressed scepticism. They had agreed that the provisions of resolution 1284 (1999) were no longer sufficient to secure the disarmament of Iraq and a strengthened inspections regime would be required.

A new resolution would be needed both to maintain the pressure on Iraq and to define a more intrusive inspections regime allowing the inspectors unconditional and unrestricted access to all Iraqi facilities.

The UK's stated objective for the negotiation of resolution 1441 was to give Saddam Hussein "one final chance to comply" with his obligations to disarm. The UK initially formulated the objective in terms of:

  • a resolution setting out an ultimatum to Iraq to re-admit the UN weapons inspectors and to disarm in accordance with its obligations; and

  • a threat to resort to the use of force to secure disarmament if Iraq failed to comply.40

Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney General, informed Mr Blair on 22 October that, although he would not be able to give a final view until the resolution was adopted, the draft of the resolution of 19 October would not on its own authorise military action.41

Mr Blair decided on 31 October to offer significant forces for ground operations to the US for planning purposes.42

During the negotiations, France and Russia made clear their opposition to the use of force, without firm evidence of a further material breach and a further decision in the Security Council.

The UK was successful in changing some aspects of the US position during the negotiations, in particular ensuring that the Security Council resolution was based on the disarmament of Iraq rather than wider issues as originally proposed by the US.

To secure consensus in the Security Council despite the different positions of the US and France and Russia (described by Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the UK Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, as "irreconcilable"), resolution 1441 was a compromise containing drafting "fixes". That created deliberate ambiguities on a number of key issues including:

  • the level of non-compliance with resolution 1441 which would constitute a material breach;

  • by whom that determination would be made; and

  • whether there would be a second resolution explicitly authorising the use of force.

As the Explanations of Vote demonstrated, there were significant differences between the positions of the members of the Security Council about the circumstances and timing of recourse to military action. There were also differences about whether Member States should be entitled to report Iraqi non-compliance to the Council.

Mr Blair, Mr Straw and other senior UK participants in the negotiation of resolution 1441 envisaged that, in the event of a material breach of Iraq's obligations, a second resolution determining that a breach existed and authorising the use of force was likely to be tabled in the Security Council.

Iraq announced on 13 November that it would comply with resolution 1441.43

Notes (hide):

43: UN Security Council, 13 November 2002, 'Letter dated 13 November 2002 from the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iraq addressed to the Secretary-General' (S/2002/1242).

Iraq also restated its position that it had neither produced nor was in possession of weapons of mass destruction since the inspectors left in December 1998. It explicitly challenged the UK statement on 8 November that Iraq had "decided to keep possession" of its WMD.

The prospect of military action

Following Iraq's submission of the declaration on its chemical, biological, nuclear and ballistic missile programmes to the UN on 7 December, and before the inspectors had properly begun their task, the US concluded that Saddam Hussein was not going to take the final opportunity offered by resolution 1441 to comply with his obligations.

Mr Blair was advised on 11 December that there was impatience in the US Administration and it was looking at military action as early as mid-February 2003.44

Mr Blair told President Bush on 16 December that the Iraqi declaration was "patently false".45 He was "cautiously optimistic" that the inspectors would find proof.

Notes (hide):

45: Letter Rycroft to McDonald, 16 December 2002, 'Prime Minister's Telephone Call with President Bush, 3. December'.

In a statement issued on 18 December, Mr Straw said that Saddam Hussein had decided to continue the pretence that Iraq had no WMD programme. If he persisted "in this obvious falsehood" it would become clear that he had "rejected the pathway to peace".46

Notes (hide):

46: The National Archives, 18 December 2002, Statement by Foreign Secretary on Iraq Declaration.

The JIC's initial Assessment of the Iraqi declaration on 18 December stated that there had been "No serious attempt" to answer any of the unresolved questions highlighted by the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) or to refute any of the points made in the UK dossier on Iraq's WMD programme.47

President Bush is reported to have told a meeting of the US National Security Council on 18 December 2002, at which the US response to Iraq's declaration was discussed, that the point of the 7 December declaration was to test whether Saddam Hussein would accept the "final opportunity" for peace offered by the Security Council.48 He had summed up the discussion by stating:

Notes (hide):

48: Feith DJ. War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism. HarperCollins, 2008.

"We've got what we need now, to show America that Saddam won't disarm himself."

Mr Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, stated on 19 December that Iraq was "well on its way to losing its last chance", and that there was a "practical limit" to how long the inspectors could be given to complete their work.49

Notes (hide):

49: US Department of State Press Release, Press Conference Secretary of State Colin L Powell,

Mr Straw told Secretary Powell on 30 December that the US and UK should develop a clear "plan B" postponing military action on the basis that inspections plus the threat of force were containing Saddam Hussein.50 Washington, 19 December 2002.

Notes (hide):

50: Letter Straw to Manning, 30 December 2002, 'Iraq: Conversation with Colin Powell, 30 December'.

In early 2003, Mr Straw still thought a peaceful solution was more likely than military action. Mr Straw advised Mr Blair on 3 January that he had concluded that, in the potential absence of a "smoking gun", there was a need to consider a "Plan B".51 The UK should emphasise to the US that the preferred strategy was peaceful disarmament.

Mr Blair took a different view. By the time he returned to the office on 4 January 2003, he had concluded that the "likelihood was war" and, if conflict could not be avoided, the right thing to do was fully to support the US.52 He was focused on the need to establish evidence of an Iraqi breach, to persuade opinion of the case for action and to finalise the strategy with President Bush at the end of January.

Notes (hide):

52: [Note Blair to No.10 officials, 4 January 2003, extract 'Iraq'.

The UK objectives were published in a Written Ministerial Statement by Mr Straw on 7 January.53 The "prime objective" was:

Notes (hide):

53: House of Commons,Official Report, 7 January 2003, columns 4-6WS.

"... to rid Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their associated programmes and means of delivery, including prohibited ballistic missiles ... as set out in UNSCRs [UN Security Council resolutions]. This would reduce Iraq's ability to threaten its neighbours and the region, and prevent Iraq using WMD against its own people. UNSCRs also require Iraq to renounce terrorism, and return captured Kuwaitis and property taken from Kuwait."

Lord Goldsmith gave Mr Blair his draft advice on 14 January that resolution 1441 would not by itself authorise the use of military force.54

Mr Blair agreed on 17 January to deploy a UK division with three combat brigades for possible operations in southern Iraq.55

There was no collective discussion of the decision by senior Ministers.

In January 2003, there was a clear divergence between the UK and US Government positions over the timetable for military action, and the UK became increasingly concerned that US impatience with the inspections process would lead to a decision to take unilateral military action in the absence of support for such action in the Security Council.

On 23 January, Mr Blair was advised that the US military would be ready for action in mid-February.56

Notes (hide):

56: Letter PS/C to Manning, 23 January 2003, [untitled].

In a Note to President Bush on 24 January, Mr Blair wrote that the arguments for proceeding with a second Security Council resolution, "or at the very least a clear statement" from Dr Blix which allowed the US and UK to argue that a failure to pass a second resolution was in breach of the spirit of 1441, remained in his view, overwhelming; and that inspectors should be given until the end of March or early April to carry out their task.57

Notes (hide):

57: Letter Manning to Rice, 24 January 2003, [untitled], attaching Note [Blair to Bush], [undated], 'Note'.

Mr Blair suggested that, in the absence of a "smoking gun", Dr Blix would be able to harden up his findings on the basis of a pattern of non-co-operation from Iraq and that that would be sufficient for support for military action in the Security Council.

The US and UK should seek to persuade others, including Dr Blix, that that was the "true view" of resolution 1441.

Mr Blair used an interview on Breakfast with Frost on 26 January to set out the position that the inspections should be given sufficient time to determine whether or not Saddam Hussein was co-operating fully.58 If he was not, that would be a sufficient reason for military action. A find of WMD was not required.

Notes (hide):

58: BBC News, 26 January 2003,Breakfast with Frost.

Mr Blair's proposed approach to his meeting with President Bush was discussed in a meeting of Ministers before Cabinet on 30 January and then discussed in general terms in Cabinet itself.

In a Note prepared before his meeting with President Bush on 31 January, Mr Blair proposed seeking a UN resolution on 5 March followed by an attempt to "mobilise Arab opinion to try to force Saddam out" before military action on 15 March.59

Notes (hide):

59: Note [Blair to Bush], [undated], 'Countdown'.

When Mr Blair met President Bush on 31 January, it was clear that the window of opportunity before the US took military action would be very short. The military campaign could begin "around 10 March".60

Notes (hide):

60: Letter Manning to McDonald, 31 January 2003, 'Iraq: Prime Minister's Conversation with President Bush on 31 January'.

President Bush agreed to seek a second resolution to help Mr Blair, but there were major reservations within the US Administration about the wisdom of that approach.

Mr Blair confirmed that he was "solidly with the President and ready to do whatever it took to disarm Saddam" Hussein.

Reporting on his visit to Washington, Mr Blair told Parliament on 3 February 2003 that Saddam Hussein was not co-operating as required by resolution 1441 and, if that continued, a second resolution should be passed to confirm such a material breach.61

Notes (hide):

61: House of Commons, Official Report*, 3 February 2003, columns 21-38.

Mr Blair continued to set the need for action against Iraq in the context of the need to be seen to enforce the will of the UN and to deter future threats.

The gap between the Permanent Members of the Security Council widens

In their reports to the Security Council on 14 February:

  • Dr Blix reported that UNMOVIC had not found any weapons of mass destruction and the items that were not accounted for might not exist, but Iraq needed to provide the evidence to answer the questions, not belittle them.

  • Dr Mohamed ElBaradei, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), reported that the IAEA had found no evidence of ongoing prohibited nuclear or nuclear-related activities in Iraq although a number of issues were still under investigation.62

Notes (hide):

62: UN Security Council, '4707th Meeting Friday 14 February 2003' (S/PV.4707).

In the subsequent debate, members of the Security Council voiced widely divergent views.

Mr Annan concluded that there were real differences on strategy and timing in the Security Council. Iraq's non-co-operation was insufficient to bring members to agree that war was justified; they would only move if they came to their own judgement that inspections were pointless.63

Notes (hide):

63: Telegram 268 UKMIS New York to FCO London, 15 February 2003, 'Foreign Secretary's Meeting with the UN Secretary-General: 14 February'.

On 19 February, Mr Blair sent President Bush a six-page Note. He proposed focusing on the absence of full co-operation and a "simple" resolution stating that Iraq had failed to take the final opportunity, with a side statement defining tough tests of co-operation and a vote on 14 March to provide a deadline for action.64

Notes (hide):

64: Letter Manning to Rice, 19 February 2003, 'Iraq' attaching Note [Blair to Bush], [undated], 'Note'.

President Bush and Mr Blair agreed to introduce a draft resolution at the UN the following week but its terms were subject to further discussion.65

Notes (hide):

65: Letter Rycroft to McDonald, 19 February 2003, 'Iraq and MEPP: Prime Minister's Telephone Conversation with Bush, 19 February'.

On 20 February, Mr Blair told Dr Blix that he wanted to offer the US an alternative strategy which included a deadline and tests for compliance.66 He did not think Saddam Hussein would co-operate but he would try to get Dr Blix as much time as possible. Iraq could have signalled a change of heart in the December declaration. The Americans did not think that Saddam was going to co-operate: "Nor did he. But we needed to keep the international community together."

Notes (hide):

66: Letter Cannon to Owen, 20 February 2003, 'Iraq: Prime Minister's Conversation with Blix'.

Dr Blix stated that full co-operation was a nebulous concept; and a deadline of 15 April would be too early. Dr Blix commented that "perhaps there was not much WMD in Iraq after all". Mr Blair responded that "even German and French intelligence were sure that there was WMD in Iraq". Dr Blix said they seemed "unsure" about "mobile BW production facilities": "It would be paradoxical and absurd if 250,000 men were to invade Iraq and find very little."

Mr Blair responded that "our intelligence was clear that Saddam had reconstituted his WMD programme".

On 24 February, the UK, US and Spain tabled a draft resolution stating that Iraq had failed to take the final opportunity offered by resolution 1441 and that the Security Council had decided to remain seized of the matter.67 The draft failed to attract support.

France, Germany and Russia responded by tabling a memorandum, building on their tripartite declaration of 10 February, stating that "full and effective disarmament" remained "the imperative objective of the international community".68 That "should be achieved peacefully through the inspection regime". The "conditions for using force" had "not been fulfilled". The Security Council "must step up its efforts to give a real chance to the peaceful settlement of the crisis".

Notes (hide):

68: UN Security Council, 24 February 2003, 'Letter dated 24 February 2003 from the Permanent Representatives of France, Germany and the Russian Federation to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council' (S/2003/214).

On 25 February, Mr Blair told the House of Commons that the intelligence was "clear" that Saddam Hussein continued "to believe that his weapons of mass destruction programme is essential both for internal repression and for external aggression".69 It was also "essential to his regional power". "Prior to the inspectors coming back in", Saddam Hussein "was engaged in a systematic exercise in concealment of those weapons". The inspectors had reported some co-operation on process, but had "denied progress on substance".

Notes (hide):

69: House of Commons,Official Report, 25 February 2003, columns 123-126.

The House of Commons was asked on 26 February to reaffirm its endorsement of resolution 1441, support the Government's continuing efforts to disarm Iraq, and to call upon Iraq to recognise that this was its final opportunity to comply with its obligations.70

Notes (hide):

70: House of Commons,Official Report, 26 February 2003, column 265.

The Government motion was approved by 434 votes to 124; 199 MPs voted for an amendment which invited the House to "find the case for military action against Iraq as yet unproven".71

Notes (hide):

71: House of Commons,Official Report, 26 February 2003, columns 367-371.

In a speech on 26 February, President Bush stated that the safety of the American people depended on ending the direct and growing threat from Iraq.72

Notes (hide):

72: The White House, 26 February 2003,President discusses the future of Iraq.

President Bush also set out his hopes for the future of Iraq.

Reporting discussions in New York on 26 February, Sir Jeremy Greenstock wrote that there was "a general antipathy to having now to take decisions on this issue, and a wariness about what our underlying motives are behind the resolution".73 Sir Jeremy concluded that the US was focused on preserving its room for manoeuvre while he was "concentrating on trying to win votes". It was the "middle ground" that mattered. Mexico and Chile were the "pivotal sceptics".

Notes (hide):

73: Telegram 314 UKMIS New York to FCO London, 27 February 2003, 'Iraq: 26 February'.

Lord Goldsmith told No.10 officials on 27 February that the safest legal course for future military action would be to secure a further Security Council resolution.74 He had, however, reached the view that a "reasonable case" could be made that resolution 1441 was capable of reviving the authorisation to use force in resolution 678 (1990) without a further resolution, if there were strong factual grounds for concluding that Iraq had failed to take the final opportunity offered by resolution 1441.

Lord Goldsmith advised that, to avoid undermining the case for reliance on resolution 1441, it would be important to avoid giving any impression that the UK believed a second resolution was legally required.

Informal consultations in the Security Council on 27 February showed there was little support for the UK/US/Spanish draft resolution.75

An Arab League Summit on 1 March concluded that the crisis in Iraq must be resolved by peaceful means and in the framework of international legitimacy.76

Notes (hide):

76: Telegram 68 Cairo to FCO London, 2 March 2003, 'Arab League Summit: Final Communique'.

Following his visit to Mexico, Sir David Manning concluded that Mexican support for a second resolution was "not impossible, but would not be easy and would almost certainly require some movement".77

During Sir David's visit to Chile, President Ricardo Lagos repeated his concerns, including the difficulty of securing nine votes or winning the presentational battle without further clarification of Iraq's non-compliance. He also suggested identifying benchmarks.78

Notes (hide):

78: Telegram 34 Santiago to FCO London, 2 March 2003, 'Chile/Iraq: Visit by Manning and Scarlett'.

Mr Blair wrote in his memoir that, during February, "despite his best endeavours", divisions in the Security Council had grown not reduced; and that the "dynamics of disagreement" were producing new alliances.79 France, Germany and Russia were moving to create an alternative pole of power and influence. 2003'.

Notes (hide):

79: Blair T. A Journey. Hutchinson, 2010.

Mr Blair thought that was "highly damaging" but "inevitable": "They felt as strongly as I did; and they weren't prepared to indulge the US, as they saw it."

Mr Blair concluded that for moral and strategic reasons the UK should be with the US and that:

"... [W]e should make a last ditch attempt for a peaceful solution. First to make the moral case for removing Saddam ... Second, to try one more time to reunite the international community behind a clear base for action in the event of a continuing breach."

On 3 March, Mr Blair proposed an approach focused on setting a deadline of 17 March for Iraq to disclose evidence relating to the destruction of prohibited items and permit interviews; and an amnesty if Saddam Hussein left Iraq by 21 March.80

Mr Straw told Secretary Powell that the level of support in the UK for military action without a second resolution was palpably "very low". In that circumstance, even if a majority in the Security Council had voted for the resolution with only France exercising its veto, he was "increasingly pessimistic" about support within the Labour Party for military action.81 The debate in the UK was:

Notes (hide):

81: Minute Straw to Prime Minister, 3 March 2003, 'Iraq: Second Resolution'.

"... significantly defined by the tone of the debate in Washington and particularly remarks made by the President and others to the right of him, which suggested that the US would go to war whatever and was not bothered about a second resolution one way or another."

Following a discussion with Mr Blair, Mr Straw told Secretary Powell that Mr Blair:

"... was concerned that, having shifted world (and British) public opinion over the months, it had now been seriously set back in recent days. We were not in the right position. The Prime Minister was considering a number of ideas which he might well put to the President."82

Notes (hide):

82: Letter Straw to Manning, 4 March 2003, 'Iraq: Conversation with Colin Powell, 3 March'.

Mr Straw recorded that Secretary Powell had advised that, if Mr Blair wanted to make proposals, he should do so quickly. The US was not enthusiastic about the inclusion of an immunity clause for Saddam Hussein in the resolution.

Mr Straw reported that Secretary Powell had told President Bush that he judged a vetoed resolution would no longer be possible for the UK. Mr Straw said that without a second resolution approval for military action could be "beyond reach".

Mr Straw told the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) on 4 March that it was "a matter of fact" that Iraq had been in material breach "for some weeks" and resolution 1441 provided sufficient legal authority to justify military action against Iraq if it was "in further material breach".83

Notes (hide):

83: Minutes, Foreign Affairs Committee (House of Commons), 4 March 2003, [Evidence Session], Qs 151 and 154.

Mr Straw also stated that a majority of members of the Security Council had been opposed to the suggestion that resolution 1441 should state explicitly that military action could be taken only if there were a second resolution.

Mr Blair was informed on the evening of 4 March that US military planners were looking at 12 March as the possible start date for the military campaign; and that Mr Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, was concerned about the apparent disconnect with activity in the UN.84

Notes (hide):

84: Letter Watkins to Manning, 4 March 2003, 'Iraq: Timing of Military Action'.

Baroness Amos, Minister of State, Department for International Development (DFID), advised on 4 March that Angola, Cameroon and Guinea were not yet ready to commit to a "yes vote" and had emphasised the need for P5 unity.85

Notes (hide):

85: Minute Amos to Foreign Secretary, 4 March 2003, [untitled].

Sir Christopher Hum, British Ambassador to China, advised on 4 March that, if the resolution was put to a vote that day, China would abstain.86

Notes (hide):

86: Telegram 90 Beijing to FCO London, 4 March 2003, 'Iraq: Lobbying the Chinese'.

Sir John Holmes, British Ambassador to France, advised on 4 March that France's main aim was to "avoid being put on the spot" by influencing the undecided, preventing the US and UK mustering nine votes, and keeping alongside the Russians and Chinese; and that there was "nothing that we can now do to dissuade them from this course".87 Sir John also advised that "nothing the French say at this stage, even privately, should be taken at face value".

Mr Igor Ivanov, the Russian Foreign Minister, told Mr Straw on 4 March that Russia had failed in an attempt to persuade Saddam Hussein to leave and it would veto a resolution based on the draft circulated on 24 February.88

Notes (hide):

88: Telegram 37 FCO London to Moscow, 3 [sic] March 2003, 'Iraq: Foreign Secretary's Meetings with Russian Foreign Minister, 4 March'.

France, Germany and Russia stated on 5 March that they would not let a resolution pass that authorised the use of force.89 Russia and France, "as Permanent Members of the Security Council, will assume all their responsibilities on this point".

Notes (hide):

89: The Guardian, 5 March 2003,UN war doubters unite against resolution;The Guardian, 6 March 2003, Full text of Joint declaration.

The British Embassy Washington reported overnight on 5/6 March that "barring a highly improbable volte face by Saddam", the US was now firmly on track for military action and would deal firmly with any efforts in the UN to slow down the timetable.90

The Embassy reported that the only event which might significantly affect the US timetable would be problems for the UK. That had been described as "huge – like trying to play football without the quarterback". The US was "therefore pulling out all the stops at the UN". The US fully understood the importance of the second resolution for the UK.

Sir Jeremy Greenstock advised that the US would not countenance the use of benchmarks. That risked delaying the military timetable.91

Mr Blair told Cabinet on 6 March that the argument boiled down to the question of whether Saddam Hussein would ever voluntarily co-operate with the UN to disarm Iraq.92

Notes (hide):

92: Cabinet Conclusions, 6 March 2003.

Mr Blair concluded that it was for the Security Council to determine whether Iraq was co-operating fully.

In his discussions with President Lagos on 6 March, Mr Blair stated that the US would go ahead without the UN if asked to delay military action until April or May.93

Notes (hide):

93: Letter Cannon to Owen, 6 March 2003, 'Iraq: Prime Minister's Conversation with President of Chile, 6 March'.

In his report to the Security Council on 7 March, Dr Blix stated that there had been an acceleration of initiatives from Iraq since the end of January, but they could not be said to constitute immediate co-operation.94 Nor did they necessarily cover all areas of relevance; but they were nevertheless welcome. UNMOVIC was drawing up a work programme of key disarmament tasks, which would be ready later that month, for approval by the Security Council. It would take "months" to complete the programme.

Notes (hide):

94: UN Security Council, '4714th Meeting Friday 7 March 2003' (S/PV.4714).

Dr ElBaradei reported that there were no indications that Iraq had resumed nuclear activities since the inspectors left in December 1998 and the recently increased level of Iraqi co-operation should allow the IAEA to provide the Security Council with an assessment of Iraq's nuclear capabilities in the near future.

There was unanimity in calls for Iraq to increase its co-operation. But there was a clear division between the US, UK, Spain and Bulgaria who spoke in favour of a further resolution and France, Germany, Russia and China and most other Member States who spoke in favour of continuing to pursuing disarmament through strengthened inspections.

The UK, US and Spain circulated a revised draft resolution deciding that Iraq would have failed to take the final opportunity offered by resolution 1441 (2002) unless the Council concluded, on or before 17 March 2003, that Iraq had demonstrated full, unconditional, immediate and active co-operation in accordance with its disarmament obligations and was yielding possession of all weapons and proscribed material to UNMOVIC and the IAEA.

President Putin told Mr Blair on 7 March that Russia would oppose military action.95

Notes (hide):

95: Letter Rycroft to McDonald, 7 March 2003, 'Iraq: Prime Minister's Conversation with President Putin, 7 March'.

Mr Straw told Mr Annan that military considerations could not be allowed "to dictate policy", but the military build-up "could not be maintained for ever", and:

"... the more he had looked into the Iraq dossier [issue] the more convinced he had become of the need for action. Reading the clusters document [a report of outstanding issues produced by UNMOVIC on 7 March] made his hair stand on end."96

Mr Straw set out the UK thinking on a deadline, stating that this was "Iraq's last chance", but the objective was disarmament and, if Saddam Hussein did what was demanded, "he could stay". In those circumstances, a "permanent and toughened inspections regime" would be needed, possibly "picking up some earlier ideas for an all-Iraq NFZ".

Lord Goldsmith sent his formal advice to Mr Blair on 7 March.97

Notes (hide):

97: Minute Goldsmith to Prime Minister, 7 March 2003, 'Iraq: Resolution 1441'.

The end of the UN route

When Mr Blair spoke to President Bush at 6pm on 7 March he emphasised the importance of securing nine positive votes98 in the Security Council for Parliamentary approval for UK military action.99

Notes (hide):

98: The number of votes required, in the absence of a veto from one or more of the five Permanent Members, for a decision to take action with the authority of the Security Council.

99: Letter Rycroft to McDonald, 7 March 2003, 'Iraq: Prime Minister's Conversation with Bush, 7 March'.

Mr Blair argued that while the 17 March deadline in the draft resolution was not sufficient for Iraq to disarm fully, it was sufficient to make a judgement on whether Saddam Hussein had had a change of heart. If Iraq started to co-operate, the inspectors could have as much time as they liked.

In a last attempt to move opinion and secure the support of nine members of the Security Council, Mr Blair decided on 8 March to propose a short extension of the timetable beyond 17 March and to revive the idea of producing a "side statement" setting out a series of tests which would provide the basis for a judgement on Saddam Hussein's intentions.

The initiative was pursued through intensive diplomatic activity to lobby for support between London and the capitals of Security Council Member States.

Mr Blair told the Inquiry:

"It was worth having one last-ditch chance to see if you could bring people back together on the same page ... [W]hat President Bush had to do was agree to table a fresh resolution. What the French had to agree was you couldn't have another resolution and another breach and no action. So my idea was define the circumstances of breach – that was the tests that we applied with Hans Blix – get the Americans to agree to the resolution, get the French to agree that you couldn't just go back to the same words of 1441 again, you had to take it a stage further."100

Notes (hide):

100: Public hearing, 29 January 2010, page 127.

In a discussion on 9 March, Mr Blair told President Bush that he needed a second resolution to secure Parliamentary support for UK involvement in military action.101 He sought President Bush's support for setting out tests in a side statement, including that the vote in the Security Council might have to be delayed "by a couple of days".

Notes (hide):

101: Letter Rycroft to McDonald, 9 March 2003, 'Iraq: Prime Minister's Conversation with Bush, 9 March'.

President Bush was unwilling to countenance delay. He was reported to have told Mr Blair that, if the second resolution failed, he would find another way to involve the UK.

Mr Blair told President Bush the UK would be with the US in taking action if he (Mr Blair) possibly could be.

Sir Jeremy Greenstock reported that Dr Blix was prepared to work with the UK on identifying tests but had reminded him that UNMOVIC still lacked clear evidence that Iraq possessed any WMD.102

Notes (hide):

102: Telegram 391 UKMIS New York to FCO London, 10 March 2003, 'Iraq: Second Resolution'.

Mr Blair spoke twice to President Lagos on 10 March in an attempt to find a path that President Lagos and President Vicente Fox of Mexico could support.

In the second conversation, Mr Blair said that he thought it "would be possible to find different wording" on the ultimatum to Iraq. Timing "would be difficult, but he would try to get some flexibility" if the first two issues "fell into place".103

Notes (hide):

103: Letter Rycroft to McDonald, 10 March 2003, 'Iraq: Prime Minister's Phone Calls with Lagos, Bush and Aznar, 10 March'.

Mr Straw reported that Secretary Powell thought that there were seven solid votes, and uncertainty about Mexico, Chile and Pakistan.104 If there were fewer than nine, the second resolution should not be put to the vote.

Notes (hide):

104: Letter Straw to Manning, 11 March 2003, 'Conversation with US Secretary of State, 10 March'.

Mr Straw replied that "he was increasingly coming to the view that we should not push the matter to a vote if we were going to be vetoed"; but that had not yet been agreed by Mr Blair.

By 10 March, President Bush's position was hardening and he was very reluctant to delay military action.

When Mr Blair spoke to President Bush, they discussed the "seven solid votes" for the resolution.105

Notes (hide):

105: Letter Rycroft to McDonald, 10 March 2003, 'Iraq: Prime Minister's Phone Calls with Lagos, Bush and Aznar, 10 March'.

Mr Alastair Campbell, Mr Blair's Director of Communications and Strategy, wrote that Mr Blair had done most of the talking.106 President Bush thought President Jacques Chirac of France was "trying to get us to the stage where we would not put [the resolution] to a vote because we would be so worried about losing".

Notes (hide):

106: Campbell A & Hagerty B. The Alastair Campbell Diaries. Volume 4. The Burden of Power: Countdown to Iraq.Hutchinson, 2012.

Mr Blair had argued that if Chile and Mexico could be shifted, that would "change the weather". If France and Russia then vetoed the resolution but the "numbers were right on the UN", Mr Blair thought that he would "have a fighting chance of getting it through the Commons". Subsequently, Mr Blair suggested that a change in Chile and Mexico's position might be used to influence President Putin.

President Bush was "worried about rolling in more time" but Mr Blair had "held his ground", arguing that Chile and Mexico would "need to be able to point to something that they won last minute that explains why they finally supported us". President Bush "said 'Let me be frank. The second resolution is for the benefit of Great Britain. We would want it so we can go ahead together.'" President Bush's position was that the US and UK "must not retreat from 1441 and we cannot keep giving them more time"; it was "time to do this" and there should be "no more deals".

Sir David Manning sent the UK proposals for a revised deadline, and a side statement identifying six tests on which Saddam Hussein's intentions would be judged, to Dr Condoleezza Rice, President Bush's National Security Advisor, and to President Lagos.107

Mr Blair wrote in his memoir that President Bush and his military were concerned about delay:108

Notes (hide):

108: Blair T. A Journey. Hutchinson, 2010.

"It [the proposal for tests/more time] was indeed a hard sell to George. His system was completely against it. His military were, not unreasonably, fearing that delay gave the enemy time – and time could mean a tougher struggle and more lives lost. This was also troubling my military. We had all sorts of contingency plans in place ... There was both UK and US intelligence warning us of the risk. "Nonetheless I thought it was worth a try ..."

Mr Blair also wrote:

"Chile and Mexico were prepared to go along, but only up to a point. Ricardo made it clear that if there was heavy opposition from France, it would be tough for them to participate in what would then be a token vote, incapable of being passed because of a veto – and what's more, a veto not by Russia, but by France. "Unfortunately, the French position had, if anything, got harder not softer. They were starting to say they would not support military action in any circumstances, irrespective of what the inspectors found ..."

In a press conference on 10 March, Mr Annan reiterated the Security Council's determination to disarm Iraq, but said that every avenue for a peaceful resolution of the crisis had to be exhausted before force should be used.109

Notes (hide):

109: United Nations, 10 March 2003, Secretary-General's press conference (unofficial transcript).

Mr Annan also warned that, if the Security Council failed to agree on a common position and action was taken without the authority of the Council, the legitimacy and support for any such action would be seriously impaired.

In an interview on 10 March, President Chirac stated that it was for the inspectors to advise whether they could complete their task.110 If they reported that they were not in a position to guarantee Iraq's disarmament, it would be:

Notes (hide):

110: The Élysée, Interview télévisée de Jacques Chirac, le 10 mars 2003. A translation for HMG was produced in a Note, [unattributed and undated], 'Iraq – Interview given by M. Jacques Chirac, President of the Republic, to French TV (10 March 2003)'.

"... for the Security Council alone to decide the right thing to do. But in that case ... regrettably, the war would become inevitable. It isn't today."

President Chirac stated that he did not consider that the draft resolution tabled by the US, UK and Spain would attract support from nine members of the Security Council. In that case, there would be no majority for action, "So there won't be a veto problem."

But if there were a majority "in favour of the new resolution", France would "vote 'no'".

In response to a question asking, "And, this evening, this is your position in principle?", President Chirac responded:

"My position is that, regardless of the circumstances, France will vote 'no' because she considers this evening that there are no grounds for waging war in order to achieve the goal we have set ourselves, that is to disarm Iraq."

By 11 March, it was clear that, in the time available before the US was going to take military action, it would be difficult to secure nine votes in the Security Council for a resolution determining that Iraq had failed to take the final opportunity offered by resolution 1441.

Mr Straw wrote to Mr Blair on 11 March setting out his firm conclusion that:

"If we cannot gain nine votes and be sure of no veto, we should not push our second resolution to a vote. The political and diplomatic consequences for the UK would be significantly worse to have our ... resolution defeated ... than if we camp on 1441 ..."111

Mr Straw set out his reasoning in some detail, including that:

  • Although in earlier discussion he had "warmed to the idea" that it was worth pushing the issue to a vote "if we had nine votes and faced only a French veto", the more he "thought about this, the worse an idea it becomes".

  • A veto by France only was "in practice less likely than two or even three vetoes".

  • The "best, least risky way to gain a moral majority" was "by the 'Kosovo route' – essentially what I am recommending. The key to our moral legitimacy then was the matter never went to a vote – but everyone knew the reason for this was that Russia would have vetoed."

Mr Straw suggested that the UK should adopt a strategy based on the argument that Iraq had failed to take the final opportunity offered by resolution 1441, and that the last three meetings of the Security Council met the requirement for Security Council consideration of reports of non-compliance.

Mr Straw also identified the need for a "Plan B" for the UK not to participate in military action in the event that the Government failed to secure a majority in the Parliamentary Labour Party for military action.

Mr Straw concluded:

"We will obviously need to discuss all this, but I thought it best to put it in your mind as event[s] could move fast. And what I propose is a great deal better than the alternatives. When Bush graciously accepted your offer to be with him all the way, he wanted you alive not dead!"

There was no reference in the minute to President Chirac's remarks the previous evening.

When Mr Blair and President Bush discussed the position late on 11 March, it was clear that President Bush was determined not to postpone the start of military action.112 They discussed the impact of President Chirac's "veto threats". Mr Blair considered that President Chirac's remarks "gave some cover" for ending the UN route.

Notes (hide):

112: Letter Cannon to McDonald, 11 March 2003, 'Iraq: Prime Minister's Conversations with Bush and Lagos, 11 March'.

Reporting discussions in New York on 11 March on the draft resolution and details of a possible "side statement", Sir Jeremy Greenstock advised that the draft resolution tabled by the UK, US and Spain on 7 March had "no chance ... of adoption".113

In a telephone call with President Bush on 12 March, Mr Blair proposed that the US and UK should continue to seek a compromise in the UN, while confirming that he knew it would not happen. He would say publicly that the French had prevented them from securing a resolution, so there would not be one.114

Notes (hide):

114: Letter Rycroft to McDonald, 12 March 2003, 'Iraq: Prime Minister's Telephone Conversation with President Bush, 12 March'.

Mr Blair wanted to avoid a gap between the end of the negotiating process and the Parliamentary vote in which France or another member of the Security Council might table a resolution that attracted the support of a majority of the Council. That could have undermined the UK (and US) position on its legal basis for action.

When he discussed the options with Mr Straw early on 12 March, Mr Blair decided that the UK would continue to support the US.115

Notes (hide):

115: Public hearing, 21 January 2010, page 105.

During Prime Minister's Questions on 12 March, Mr Blair stated:

"I hope that even now those countries that are saying they would use their veto no matter what the circumstances will reconsider and realise that by doing so they put at risk not just the disarmament of Saddam, but the unity of the United Nations."116

Notes (hide):

116: House of Commons,Official Report, 12 March 2003, column 288.

The FCO assessed on 12 March that the votes of the three African states were reasonably secure but Pakistan's vote was not so certain. It was hoped that the six tests plus a short extension of the 17 March deadline might deliver Mexico and Chile.117

The UK circulated its draft side statement setting out the six tests to a meeting of Security Council members in New York on the evening of 12 March.118

Sir Jeremy Greenstock told Council members that the UK "non-paper" responded to an approach from the "undecided six"119 looking for a way forward, setting out six The Endgame'. tasks to be achieved in a 10-day timeline.120 Sir Jeremy reported that France, Germany and Russia all said that the draft resolution without operative paragraph 3 would still authorise force. The UK had not achieved "any kind of breakthrough" and there were "serious questions about the available time", which the US would "not help us to satisfy".

Notes (hide):

119: Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Guinea, Mexico, Pakistan.

120: Telegram 428 UKMIS New York to FCO London, 13 March 2003, 'Iraq: UK Circulates Side-Statement'.

Mr Blair told Cabinet on 13 March that work continued in the UN to obtain a second resolution and, following the French decision to veto, the outcome remained open.121

Mr Straw described President Chirac's position as "irresponsible".

Mr Straw told Cabinet that there was "good progress" in gaining support in the Security Council.

Mr Blair concluded that the French position "looked to be based on a calculation of strategic benefit". It was "in contradiction of the Security Council's earlier view that military action would follow if Iraq did not fully and unconditionally co-operate with the inspectors". The UK would "continue to show flexibility" in its efforts to achieve a second resolution and, "if France could be shown to be intransigent, the mood of the Security Council could change towards support for the British draft".

Mr Blair agreed the military plan later on 13 March.122

On 13 March, Mr Blair and President Bush discussed withdrawing the resolution on 17 March followed by a US ultimatum to Saddam Hussein to leave within 48 hours. There would be no US military action until after the vote in the House of Commons on 18 March.123

Notes (hide):

123: Letter Cannon to McDonald, 13 March 2003, 'Iraq: Military Timetable'.

Mr Blair continued to press President Bush to publish the Road Map on the Middle East Peace Process because of its impact on domestic opinion in the UK as well as its strategic impact.

Reporting developments in New York on 13 March, Sir Jeremy Greenstock warned that the UK tests had attracted no support, and that the US might be ready to call a halt to the UN process on 15 March.124 The main objections had included the "perceived authorisation of force in the draft resolution" and a desire to wait for UNMOVIC's own list of key tasks which would be issued early the following week.

Notes (hide):

124: Telegram 438 UKMIS New York to FCO London, 14 March 2003, 'Iraq: 13 March'.

President Chirac told Mr Blair on 14 March that France was "content to proceed 'in the logic of UNSCR 1441'; but it could not accept an ultimatum or any 'automaticity' of recourse to force".125 He proposed looking at a new resolution in line with resolution 1441, "provided that it excluded these options". President Chirac "suggested that the UNMOVIC work programme might provide a way forward. France was prepared to look at reducing the 120 day timeframe it envisaged."

In response to a question from President Chirac about whether it would be the inspectors or the Security Council who decided whether Saddam had co-operated, Mr Blair "insisted that it must be the Security Council".

President Chirac agreed, "although the Security Council should make its judgement on the basis of the inspectors' report". He "wondered whether it would be worth" Mr Straw and Mr Dominique de Villepin, the French Foreign Minister, "discussing the situation to see if we could find some flexibility"; or was it "too late"?

Mr Blair said, "every avenue must be explored".

In the subsequent conversation with President Bush about the French position and what to say when the resolution was pulled, Mr Blair proposed that they would need to show that France would not authorise the use of force in any circumstances.126

Notes (hide):

126: Letter Rycroft to McDonald, 14 March 2003, 'Iraq: Prime Minister's Conversation with Bush, 14 March'.

President Lagos initially informed Mr Blair on 14 March that the UK proposals did not have Chile's support and that he was working on other ideas.127 He subsequently informed Mr Blair that he would not pursue his proposals unless Mr Blair or President Bush asked him to.

Mr Tony Brenton, Chargé d'Affaires, British Embassy Washington, reported that President Bush was determined to remove Saddam Hussein and to stick to the US timetable for action. The UK's "steadfastness" had been "invaluable" in bringing in other countries in support of action.128

In a declaration on 15 March, France, with Germany and Russia, attempted to secure support in the Security Council for continued inspections.129

Notes (hide):

129: UN Security Council, 18 March 2003, 'Letter dated 15 March 2003 from the Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council' (S/2003/320).

At the Azores Summit on 16 March, President Bush, Mr Blair and Prime Minister José María Aznar of Spain agreed that, unless there was a fundamental change in the next 24 hours, the UN process would end.130

Notes (hide):

130: Letter Manning to McDonald, 16 March 2013, 'Iraq: Summit Meeting in the Azores: 16 March'.

In public, the focus was on a "last chance for peace". The joint communiqué contained a final appeal to Saddam Hussein to comply with his obligations and to the Security Council to back a second resolution containing an ultimatum.

In his memoir, Mr Blair wrote:

"So when I look back ... I know there was never any way Britain was not going to be with the US at that moment, once we went down the UN route and Saddam was in breach. Of course such a statement is always subject toin extremiscorrection.A crazy act of aggression? No, we would not have supported that. But given the history, you couldn't call Saddam a crazy target. "Personally I have little doubt that at some point we would have to have dealt with him ..."131

Notes (hide):

131: Blair T.A Journey. Hutchinson, 2010.

At "about 3.15pm UK time" on 17 March, Sir Jeremy Greenstock announced that the resolution would not be put to a vote, stating that the co-sponsors reserved the right to take their own steps to secure the disarmament of Iraq.132

The subsequent discussion in the Council suggested that only the UK, the US, and Spain took the view that all options other than the use of military force had been exhausted.133

A specially convened Cabinet at 1600 on 17 March 2003 endorsed the decision that the diplomatic process was now at an end and Saddam Hussein should be given an ultimatum to leave Iraq; and that the House of Commons would be asked to endorse the use of military action against Iraq to enforce compliance, if necessary.134

In his statement to the House of Commons that evening, Mr Straw said that the Government had reluctantly concluded that France's actions had put a consensus in the Security Council on a further resolution "beyond reach".135

Notes (hide):

135: House of Commons,Official Report, 17 March 2003, columns 703-705.

As a result of Saddam Hussein's persistent refusal to meet the UN's demands, the Cabinet had decided to ask the House of Commons to support the UK's participation in military action, should that be necessary to achieve the disarmament of Iraq "and thereby the maintenance of the authority of the United Nations".

Mr Straw stated that Lord Goldsmith's Written Answer "set out the legal basis for the use of force".

Mr Straw drew attention to the significance of the fact that no one "in discussions in the Security Council and outside" had claimed that Iraq was in full compliance with its obligations.

In a statement later that evening, Mr Robin Cook, the Leader of the House of Commons, set out his doubts about the degree to which Saddam Hussein posed a "clear and present danger" and his concerns that the UK was being "pushed too quickly into conflict" by the US without the support of the UN and in the face of hostility from many of the UK's traditional allies.136

Notes (hide):

136: House of Commons,Official Report, 17 March 2003, columns 726-728.

On 17 March, President Bush issued an ultimatum giving Saddam Hussein 48 hours to leave Iraq.

The French President's office issued a statement early on 18 March stating that the US ultimatum was a unilateral decision going against the will of the international community who wanted to pursue Iraqi disarmament in accordance with resolution 1441.137 It stated:

Notes (hide):

137: Telegram 135 Paris to FCO London, 18 March 2003, 'Iraq: Chirac's Reaction to Ultimatum'.

"... only the Security Council is authorised to legitimise the use of force. France appeals to the responsibility of all to see that international legality is respected. To disregard the legitimacy of the UN, to favour force over the law, would be to take on a heavy responsibility."

On the evening of 18 March, the House of Commons passed by 412 votes to 149 a motion supporting "the decision of Her Majesty's Government that the United Kingdom should use all means necessary to ensure the disarmament of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction".

President Bush wrote in his memoir that he convened "the entire National Security Council" on the morning of 19 March where he "gave the order to launch Operation Iraqi Freedom".138

Notes (hide):

138: Bush GW.Decision Points. Virgin Books, 2010.

In the Security Council debate on 19 March, the majority of members of the Security Council, including France, Russia and China, made clear that they thought the goal of disarming Iraq could be achieved by peaceful means and emphasised the primary responsibility of the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security.139

Notes (hide):

139: UN Security Council, '4721st Meeting Wednesday 19 March 2003' (S/PV.4721).

UNMOVIC and the IAEA had provided the work programmes required by resolution 1284. They included 12 key tasks identified by UNMOVIC where progress "could have an impact on the Council's assessment of co-operation of Iraq".

Shortly before midnight on 19 March, the US informed Sir David Manning that there was to be a change to the plan and US airstrikes would be launched at 0300 GMT on 20 March.140

Notes (hide):

140: Letter Manning to McDonald, 20 March 2003, 'Iraq'.

Early on the morning of 20 March, US forces crossed into Iraq and seized the port area of Umm Qasr.141

Notes (hide):

141: Ministry of Defence,Operations in Iraq: Lessons for the Future, December 2003, page 12.

Mr Blair continued to state that France was responsible for the impasse.

At Cabinet on 20 March, Mr Blair concluded that the Government:

"... should lose no opportunity to propagate the reason, at every level and as widely as possible, why we had arrived at a diplomatic impasse, and why it was necessary to take action against Iraq. France had not been prepared to accept that Iraq's failure to comply with its obligations should lead to the use of force to achieve compliance."142

Notes (hide):

142: Cabinet Conclusions, 20 March 2003.


Next Section: Why Iraq? Why now?

Table of Contents


Notes:

1: Joint Memorandum by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and the Secretary of State for Defence, 17 May 1999, 'Iraq Future Strategy'.

2: UN Security Council Press Release, 17 December 1999, Security Council Establishes New Monitoring Commission For Iraq Adopting Resolution 1284 (1999) By Vote of 11-0-4 (SC/6775).

3: UN Security Council, '4084th Meeting Friday 17 December 1999' (S/PV.4084).

4: Letter Goulty to McKane, 20 October 2000, 'Iraq'.

5: JIC Assessment, 1 November 2000, 'Iraq: Prospects for Co-operation with UNSCR 1284'.

6: Letter Sawers to Cowper-Coles, 27 November 2000, 'Iraq'.

7: Letter Barrow to Sawers, 15 December 2000, 'Iraq'.

8: JIC Assessment, 14 February 2001, 'Iraq: Economic Sanctions Eroding'.

9: Letter Sawers to Cowper-Coles, 24 February 2001, 'Prime Minister's Talks with President Bush, Camp David, 23 February 2001'.

10: House of Commons,Official Report, 26 February 2001, column 620.

11: Minute McKane to Manning, 18 September 2001, 'Iraq Stocktake'.

12: Public hearing, 21 January 2011, page 8.

13: The National Archives, 11 September 2001, September 11 attacks: Prime Minister's statement.

14: JIC Assessment, 18 September 2001, 'UK Vulnerability to Major Terrorist Attack'.

15: JIC Assessment, 28 November 2001, 'Iraq after September 11 – The Terrorist Threat'.

16: The White House, 26 November 2001, The President Welcomes Aid Workers Rescued from Afghanistan.

17: Paper [Blair to Bush], 4 December 2001, 'The War against Terrorism: The Second Phase'.

18: The White House, 29 January 2002, The President's State of the Union Address.

19: Letter C to Manning, 26 February 2002, 'US Policy on Iraq'.

20: JIC Assessment, 27 February 2002, 'Iraq: Saddam Under the Spotlight'.

21: Minute Straw to Prime Minister, 25 March 2002, 'Crawford/Iraq'.

22: Letter Manning to McDonald, 8 April 2002, 'Prime Minister's Visit to the United States: 5-7 April'.

23: The White House, 6 April 2002,President Bush, Prime Minister Blair Hold Press Conference.

24: Blair T.A Journey. Hutchinson, 2010.

25: Paper Cabinet Office, 19 July 2002, 'Iraq: Conditions for Military Action'.

26: Paper [Draft] Cabinet Office, 'Iraq: Conditions for Military Action' attached to Minute McKane to Bowen, 2. July 2002, 'Iraq'.

27: Paper Cabinet Office, 19 July 2002, 'Iraq: Conditions for Military Action'.

28: Report, 22 July 2002, 'Iraq [C's account of discussions with Dr Rice]'.

29: Minute Rycroft to Manning, 23 July 2002, 'Iraq: Prime Minister's Meeting, 23 July'.

30: Letter McDonald to Rycroft, 26 July 2002, 'Iraq: Ultimatum' attaching Paper 'Elements which might be incorporated in an SCR embodying an ultimatum to Iraq'.

31: Note Blair [to Bush], 28 July 2002, 'Note on Iraq'.

32: Rycroft to McDonald, 31 July 2002, 'Iraq: Prime Minister's Phone Call with President Bush, 31 July'.

33: The National Archives, 3 September 2002, PM press conference [at Sedgefield].

34: The White House, 7 September 2002, President Bush, Prime Minister Blair Discuss Keeping the Peace.

35: Minute Manning to Prime Minister, 8 September 2002, 'Your Visit to Camp David on 7 September: Conversation with President Bush'.

36: The White House, 12 September 2002, President's Remarks to the United Nations General Assembly.

37: Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction. The Assessment of the British Government, 24 September 2002.

38: House of Commons,Official Report, 24 September 2002, columns 1-23.

39: UN Security Council, 16 September 2002, 'Letter dated 16 September from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iraq addressed to the Secretary-General', attached to 'Letter dated 16 September from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council' (S/2002/1034).

40: Minute Straw to Prime Minister, 14 September 2002, 'Iraq: Pursuing the UN Route'.

41: Minute Adams to Attorney General, 22 October 2002, 'Iraq: Meeting with the Prime Minister, 22 October' attaching Briefing, 'Lines to take'.

42: Letter Wechsberg to Watkins, 31 October 2002, 'Iraq: Military Options'.

43: UN Security Council, 13 November 2002, 'Letter dated 13 November 2002 from the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iraq addressed to the Secretary-General' (S/2002/1242).

44: Minute Manning to Prime Minister, 11 December 2002, 'Iraq'.

45: Letter Rycroft to McDonald, 16 December 2002, 'Prime Minister's Telephone Call with President Bush, 3. December'.

46: The National Archives, 18 December 2002, Statement by Foreign Secretary on Iraq Declaration.

47: JIC Assessment, 18 December 2002, 'An Initial Assessment of Iraq's WMD Declaration'.

48: Feith DJ. War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism. HarperCollins, 2008.

49: US Department of State Press Release, Press Conference Secretary of State Colin L Powell,

50: Letter Straw to Manning, 30 December 2002, 'Iraq: Conversation with Colin Powell, 30 December'.

51: Minute Straw to Prime Minister, 3 January 2003, 'Iraq - Plan B'.

52: [Note Blair to No.10 officials, 4 January 2003, extract 'Iraq'.

53: House of Commons,Official Report, 7 January 2003, columns 4-6WS.

54: [Minute [Draft] Goldsmith to Prime Minister, 14 January 2003, 'Iraq: Interpretation of Resolution 1441'.

55: Letter Manning to Watkins, 17 January 2003, 'Iraq: UK Land Contribution'.

56: Letter PS/C to Manning, 23 January 2003, [untitled].

57: Letter Manning to Rice, 24 January 2003, [untitled], attaching Note [Blair to Bush], [undated], 'Note'.

58: BBC News, 26 January 2003,Breakfast with Frost.

59: Note [Blair to Bush], [undated], 'Countdown'.

60: Letter Manning to McDonald, 31 January 2003, 'Iraq: Prime Minister's Conversation with President Bush on 31 January'.

61: House of Commons, Official Report*, 3 February 2003, columns 21-38.

62: UN Security Council, '4707th Meeting Friday 14 February 2003' (S/PV.4707).

63: Telegram 268 UKMIS New York to FCO London, 15 February 2003, 'Foreign Secretary's Meeting with the UN Secretary-General: 14 February'.

64: Letter Manning to Rice, 19 February 2003, 'Iraq' attaching Note [Blair to Bush], [undated], 'Note'.

65: Letter Rycroft to McDonald, 19 February 2003, 'Iraq and MEPP: Prime Minister's Telephone Conversation with Bush, 19 February'.

66: Letter Cannon to Owen, 20 February 2003, 'Iraq: Prime Minister's Conversation with Blix'.

67: Telegram 302 UKMIS New York to FCO London, 25 February 2003, 'Iraq: Tabling of US/UK/Spanish Draft Resolution: Draft Resolution'.

68: UN Security Council, 24 February 2003, 'Letter dated 24 February 2003 from the Permanent Representatives of France, Germany and the Russian Federation to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council' (S/2003/214).

69: House of Commons,Official Report, 25 February 2003, columns 123-126.

70: House of Commons,Official Report, 26 February 2003, column 265.

71: House of Commons,Official Report, 26 February 2003, columns 367-371.

72: The White House, 26 February 2003,President discusses the future of Iraq.

73: Telegram 314 UKMIS New York to FCO London, 27 February 2003, 'Iraq: 26 February'.

74: Minute Brummell, 27 February 2003, 'Iraq: Attorney General's Meeting at No. 10 on 27th February

75: Telegram 318 UKMIS New York to FCO London, 28 February 2003, 'Iraq: 27 February Consultations and Missiles'.

76: Telegram 68 Cairo to FCO London, 2 March 2003, 'Arab League Summit: Final Communique'.

77: Telegram 1 Mexico City to Cabinet Office, 1 March 2003, 'Iraq: Mexico'.

78: Telegram 34 Santiago to FCO London, 2 March 2003, 'Chile/Iraq: Visit by Manning and Scarlett'.

79: Blair T. A Journey. Hutchinson, 2010.

80: Note (handwritten) Blair 3 March 2003, untitled.

81: Minute Straw to Prime Minister, 3 March 2003, 'Iraq: Second Resolution'.

82: Letter Straw to Manning, 4 March 2003, 'Iraq: Conversation with Colin Powell, 3 March'.

83: Minutes, Foreign Affairs Committee (House of Commons), 4 March 2003, [Evidence Session], Qs 151 and 154.

84: Letter Watkins to Manning, 4 March 2003, 'Iraq: Timing of Military Action'.

85: Minute Amos to Foreign Secretary, 4 March 2003, [untitled].

86: Telegram 90 Beijing to FCO London, 4 March 2003, 'Iraq: Lobbying the Chinese'.

87: Telegram 110 Paris to FCO London, 4 March 2003, 'Iraq: Avoiding a French Veto'.

88: Telegram 37 FCO London to Moscow, 3 [sic] March 2003, 'Iraq: Foreign Secretary's Meetings with Russian Foreign Minister, 4 March'.

89: The Guardian, 5 March 2003,UN war doubters unite against resolution;The Guardian, 6 March 2003, Full text of Joint declaration.

90: Telegram 294 Washington to FCO London, 6 March 2003, 'Personal Iraq: UN Endgame'.

91: Telegram 353 UKMIS New York to FCO London, 6 March 2003, 'Iraq: 5 March'.

92: Cabinet Conclusions, 6 March 2003.

93: Letter Cannon to Owen, 6 March 2003, 'Iraq: Prime Minister's Conversation with President of Chile, 6 March'.

94: UN Security Council, '4714th Meeting Friday 7 March 2003' (S/PV.4714).

95: Letter Rycroft to McDonald, 7 March 2003, 'Iraq: Prime Minister's Conversation with President Putin, 7 March'.

96: Telegram 366 UKMIS New York to FCO London, 7 March 2003, 'Iraq: Foreign Secretary's Meeting with UN Secretary-General, New York, 6 March'.

97: Minute Goldsmith to Prime Minister, 7 March 2003, 'Iraq: Resolution 1441'.

98: The number of votes required, in the absence of a veto from one or more of the five Permanent Members, for a decision to take action with the authority of the Security Council.

99: Letter Rycroft to McDonald, 7 March 2003, 'Iraq: Prime Minister's Conversation with Bush, 7 March'.

100: Public hearing, 29 January 2010, page 127.

101: Letter Rycroft to McDonald, 9 March 2003, 'Iraq: Prime Minister's Conversation with Bush, 9 March'.

102: Telegram 391 UKMIS New York to FCO London, 10 March 2003, 'Iraq: Second Resolution'.

103: Letter Rycroft to McDonald, 10 March 2003, 'Iraq: Prime Minister's Phone Calls with Lagos, Bush and Aznar, 10 March'.

104: Letter Straw to Manning, 11 March 2003, 'Conversation with US Secretary of State, 10 March'.

105: Letter Rycroft to McDonald, 10 March 2003, 'Iraq: Prime Minister's Phone Calls with Lagos, Bush and Aznar, 10 March'.

106: Campbell A & Hagerty B. The Alastair Campbell Diaries. Volume 4. The Burden of Power: Countdown to Iraq.Hutchinson, 2012.

107: Letter Manning to Rice, 10 March 2003, [untitled].

108: Blair T. A Journey. Hutchinson, 2010.

109: United Nations, 10 March 2003, Secretary-General's press conference (unofficial transcript).

110: The Élysée, Interview télévisée de Jacques Chirac, le 10 mars 2003. A translation for HMG was produced in a Note, [unattributed and undated], 'Iraq – Interview given by M. Jacques Chirac, President of the Republic, to French TV (10 March 2003)'.

111: Minute Straw to Prime Minister, 11 March 2003, 'Iraq: What if We Cannot Win the Second Resolution?'

112: Letter Cannon to McDonald, 11 March 2003, 'Iraq: Prime Minister's Conversations with Bush and Lagos, 11 March'.

113: Telegram 417 UKMIS New York to FCO London, 12 March 2003, 'Personal Iraq: Side Statement and End Game Options'.

114: Letter Rycroft to McDonald, 12 March 2003, 'Iraq: Prime Minister's Telephone Conversation with President Bush, 12 March'.

115: Public hearing, 21 January 2010, page 105.

116: House of Commons,Official Report, 12 March 2003, column 288.

117: Telegram 33 FCO London to Riyadh, 12 March 2003, 'Personal for Heads of Mission: Iraq:

118: Telegram 429 UKMIS New York to FCO London, 13 March 2003, 'Iraq: UK Side-Statement'.

119: Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Guinea, Mexico, Pakistan.

120: Telegram 428 UKMIS New York to FCO London, 13 March 2003, 'Iraq: UK Circulates Side-Statement'.

121: Cabinet Conclusions, 13 March 2003.

122: Letter Rycroft to Watkins, 13 March 2003, 'Iraq: Military Planning'.

123: Letter Cannon to McDonald, 13 March 2003, 'Iraq: Military Timetable'.

124: Telegram 438 UKMIS New York to FCO London, 14 March 2003, 'Iraq: 13 March'.

125: Letter Cannon to Owen, 14 March 2003, 'Iraq: Prime Minister's Conversation with President Chirac 14 March

126: Letter Rycroft to McDonald, 14 March 2003, 'Iraq: Prime Minister's Conversation with Bush, 14 March'.

127: Letter [Francis] Campbell to Owen, 14 March 2003, 'Iraq: Prime Minister's Conversation with President Lagos of Chile, 14 March'.

128: Telegram 350 Washington to FCO London, 15 March 2003, 'Iraq'.

129: UN Security Council, 18 March 2003, 'Letter dated 15 March 2003 from the Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council' (S/2003/320).

130: Letter Manning to McDonald, 16 March 2013, 'Iraq: Summit Meeting in the Azores: 16 March'.

131: Blair T.A Journey. Hutchinson, 2010.

132: Telegram 465 UKMIS New York to FCO London, 18 March 2003, 'Iraq: Resolution: Statement'.

133: Telegram 464 UKMIS New York to FCO London, 18 March 2003, 'Iraq: Resolution'.

134: Cabinet Conclusions, 17 March 2003.

135: House of Commons,Official Report, 17 March 2003, columns 703-705.

136: House of Commons,Official Report, 17 March 2003, columns 726-728.

137: Telegram 135 Paris to FCO London, 18 March 2003, 'Iraq: Chirac's Reaction to Ultimatum'.

138: Bush GW.Decision Points. Virgin Books, 2010.

139: UN Security Council, '4721st Meeting Wednesday 19 March 2003' (S/PV.4721).

140: Letter Manning to McDonald, 20 March 2003, 'Iraq'.

141: Ministry of Defence,Operations in Iraq: Lessons for the Future, December 2003, page 12.

142: Cabinet Conclusions, 20 March 2003.