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Iraq: Britain's Straw Defends Decision On War

London, 27 June 2003 (RFE/RL) -- U.K. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw today renewed his defense of Britain's participation in the Iraq war, again rejecting charges that intelligence reports were exaggerated to support the need for the U.S.-led invasion. Speaking before the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Straw said intelligence information confirmed that Iraq had the capacity for biological- and chemical-weapons programs.

He said intelligence reports that Iraq had the ability to deploy weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes -- a claim that has come under heated dispute -- were not central to London's decision to join U.S. forces in the war.

Straw said that military action was justified even without further evidence of Iraq's pursuit of banned weapons. "I hope very much that of course we'll find further corroborative evidence about Saddam's chemical and biological capabilities and his nuclear plans, but whether or not we do, the decision to take military action was justified on the date 18 March," he said.

Robin Cook, the former British foreign secretary who resigned as leader of the House of Commons over Britain's pro-war stance, told the BBC today that some parts of Britain's intelligence dossiers on Iraq, including the 45-minute weapons-readiness claim, were "plainly inaccurate."