A great deal of information on Iraq’s nuclear, chemical, biological and ballistic missile programmes has already been published - more so, it seems to us, than on the other countries we have studied. We do not therefore seek to tell the full story here. Rather, we focus mainly on the intelligence assessments made by the British intelligence community; on how they were derived, and especially on the reliability of the underpinning intelligence; and on the use made of intelligence in a range of activities of Ministers and their departments.
We have sought in our examination of departmental papers and in our questioning of witnesses 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?
We have studied the assessments of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) and the intelligence reports that underlay them as far back as 1990, for two reasons. First, we have sought to establish whether there are any detectable systemic issues surrounding the effective operation of the intelligence process over more than a decade which might have affected JIC assessments in the period prior to the second Gulf war. Secondly, we have sought to establish whether assessments made about the scale of Iraq’s nuclear, biological, chemical and ballistic missile weapons programmes at the time of the first Gulf war and during the early- and mid-1990s had a lasting impact which was reflected in JIC assessments made in 2002 and 2003.