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Foreign Secretary outlines WMD intelligence review

Foreign Secretary outlines
WMD intelligence review

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has set out plans for a committee to review intelligence on weapons of mass destruction.

The committee will be chaired by former Cabinet Secretary Lord Butler of Brockwell. The other members are Sir John Chilcot, Field Marshal Lord Inge and the MPs Ann Taylor and Michael Mates.

The committee will work closely with the US inquiry and the Iraq Survey Group and will report back in the summer. It will have access to all intelligence reports and assessments and other relevant government papers, and will be able to call witnesses to give oral evidence in private.

The task of the committee will be to:

- investigate the intelligence coverage available on WMD programmes of countries of concern and on the global trade in WMD, taking into account what is now known about these programmes;

- investigate the accuracy of intelligence on Iraqi WMD up to March 2003, and to examine any discrepancies between the intelligence gathered, evaluated and used by the Government before the conflict, and between that intelligence and what has been discovered by the Iraq Survey Group since the end of the conflict; and

- make recommendations to the Prime Minister for the future on the gathering, evaluation and use of intelligence on WMD, in the light of the difficulties of operating in countries of concern.
Mr Straw paid tribute to Britain's intelligence agencies and said the inquiry is "emphatically not" a challenge to their vital work.

"But what it should do is help the Government better to evaluate and to assess the information they provide."

He also said the decision taken ten months ago to go to war in Iraq was justified given the defiance of a regime which had used weapons of mass destruction and had refused to comply with United Nations Security Council obligations.

"That is a decision for which we, as elected representatives, took responsibility and will continue to take responsibility."


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