whether the aluminium tubes were likely to have been intended for a centrifuge facility for nuclear enrichment.
We accept the need for careful handling of human intelligence reports to sustain the security of sources. We have, however, seen evidence of difficulties that arose from the unduly strict ‘compartmentalisation’ of intelligence which meant that experts in DIS did not have access to an intelligence report which became available in September 2002 and played a major role for the JIC in confirming previous intelligence reports that Iraq was producing chemical and biological weapons. The report was later withdrawn in July 2003. We accept that this report was from a new source who was thought to be of great potential value and was therefore of extreme sensitivity. Nevertheless, it was wrong that a report which was of significance in the drafting of a document of the importance of the dossier was not shown to key experts in the DIS who could have commented on the validity and credibility of the report. We conclude that arrangements should always be sought to ensure that the need for protection of sources should not prevent the exposure of reports on technical matters to the most expert available analysis.
The quality of JIC assessments
We were impressed by the quality of intelligence assessments on Iraq’s nuclear capabilities. They were in our view thorough, balanced and measured; brought together effectively human and technical intelligence information; included information on the perceived quality of the underlying intelligence sources to help readers in interpreting the material; identified explicitly those areas where previous assessments were wrong, and the reasons why; and at each significant stage included consideration of alternative hypotheses and scenarios, and provided an explanation of the consequences were any one to arise, to aid readers’ understanding.
Partly because of inherent difficulties in assessing chemical and biological programmes, JIC assessments on Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons programmes were less assured. In our view, assessments in those areas tended to be over-cautious and in some areas worst case. Where there was a balance of inference to be drawn, it tended to go in the direction of inferring the existence of banned weapons programmes. Assessments were as a consequence less complete, especially in their considerations of alternative hypotheses, and used a different burden of proof.
There are some general factors which will always complicate assessments of chemical and biological weapons programmes. In our review of intelligence on the nuclear, biological and chemical programmes of other states, we saw an equivalent complexity in making judgements on their status. The most significant is the ‘dual use’ issue - because chemical and biological weapons programmes can draw heavily on ‘dual use’ materials, it is easier for a proliferating state to keep its programmes covert.