Even so we have noted that, despite its importance to the determination of whether Iraq was in further material breach of its obligations under Resolution 1441, the JIC made no further assessment of the Iraqi declaration beyond its ‘Initial Assessment’. We have also recorded our surprise that policy-makers and the intelligence community did not, as the generally negative results of UNMOVIC inspections became increasingly apparent, re-evaluate in early-2003 the quality of the intelligence.
VALIDATION OF THE INTELLIGENCE
As we set out at the start of this Chapter, we sought in our Review to assess the intelligence on Iraqi capabilities to enable us to answer three broad questions:
What was the quality of the intelligence and other evidence, and the assessments made of it, about the strategic intent of the Iraqi regime to pursue nuclear, biological, chemical or ballistic missile programmes in contravention of its obligations under United Nations Security Council Resolution 687?
What was the quality of the intelligence or other evidence, and the assessments made of it, about Iraq seeking to sustain and develop its indigenous knowledge, skills and materiel base which would provide it with a ‘break-out’ capability in each of those fields? Was there in particular good intelligence or other evidence of Iraq pursuing activities to extend and enhance those capabilities in contravention of its obligations under United Nations Security Council Resolutions?
What was the quality of the intelligence or other evidence, and the assessments made of it, about Iraqi production or possession of prohibited chemical and biological agents and weapons, nuclear materials and ballistic missiles?
Even now it would be premature to reach conclusions about Iraq’s prohibited weapons. Much potential evidence may have been destroyed in the looting and disorder that followed the cessation of hostilities. Other material may be hidden in the sand, including stocks of agent or weapons. We believe that it would be a rash person who asserted at this stage that evidence of Iraqi possession of stocks of biological or chemical agents, or even of banned missiles, does not exist or will never be found. But as a result of our Review, and taking into account the evidence which has been found by the ISG and de-briefing of Iraqi personnel, we have reached the conclusion that prior to the war the Iraqi regime:
Had the strategic intention of resuming the pursuit of prohibited weapons programmes, including if possible its nuclear weapons programme, when United Nations inspection regimes were relaxed and sanctions were eroded or lifted.