. . . it’s very,very difficult particularly when the pressure on the Service is to produce good intelligence,to put your officers who are the only ones that can do prod uction as well into the Requirements tasks. I accept problems and the fact that in an ideal world you would only staff your Requirements desks with very experienced operational officers. In practice that is not possible.
He added, however, that SIS had nevertheless: . . . managed to keep significant experience in each Requirement bit and we don’t allow a situation where raw recruits without experience are putting out intelligence without reference to more experienced officers who can check the process.
In conclusion, the Chief of SIS said that: We look very hard at the health of the Requirements function and one of the exercises we did post-Iraq was to look at this very carefully and try to work out whether anything remedial needed to be done . . . where we need to run more training courses for Requirements officers,whether we need to reinforce the Requirements sect ions with more area expertise,whether we need more operational expertise. I don’t t hink the Requirements function in SIS is in any way diminished.
Our experience of SIS reporting on other countries of concern and the AQ Khan network, described at Chapter 2, gives us assurance that these procedures work, when applied properly. But there were clearly failures in the case of intelligence on Iraq. We return to this issue in our Conclusions.
5.10 CONCLUSIONS ON IRAQ
THE POLICY CONTEXT
We have deliberately started our description of the policy context in 1998. It was clear to us, especially from the evidence we heard from the Prime Minister, that the challenge posed by the Iraqi regime in 1998 to the United Nations inspections regime and the Government’s response to it had a significant influence on policy towards Iraq in later years. Thus, the Prime Minister’s statement in the House of Commons in February 1998 contained themes that would be equally applicable four years later – the need to preserve the authority and standing of the United Nations; the need in particular to prevent the Iraqi government thwarting the United Nations inspection regime; and in that context the need to back United Nations’ demands that Iraq meet its obligations with the threat of force.
A review of Government policy towards Iraq in 1999 noted that the policy of containment had “kept the lid on” Saddam Hussein. In the absence of internationally acceptable alternative options, it recommended continuation of the policy of containment, despite its disadvantages. In parallel, however, key policy-makers were receiving increasing intelligence on the developing nuclear, chemical and biological programmes of other states of concern and the proliferation activities of the AQ Khan network, described more fully at Chapter 2. They also had intelligence, described at Chapter 3, of efforts by Usama bin Laden to seek unconventional weapons. The Prime Minister described to us his perception of the longer-term risks to international security and stability posed by such