The intelligence underpinning the latter relates to an Iraqi trade mission to Africa and is covered at Chapter 6; we judge it to have been represented correctly by the JIC in its assessment. We are also satisfied that the JIC reflected fairly the intelligence underpinning its statements about Iraqi attempts at procurement of ‘dual use’ equipment. The assessment also contained a full options analysis of the impact of the continued application (or otherwise) of United Nations sanctions, and of any resumption of United Nations inspections, on the date by which Iraq could acquire a nuclear device.
A further assessment by the JIC of the status of Iraq’s nuclear, biological, chemical and ballistic missile programmes in May 2001 signalled a clear change in the JIC’s perception. In the first Key Judgement to its assessment, the JIC noted that: Our knowledge of developments in Iraq’s WMD and ballistic missile programmes since Desert Fox air operations in December 1998 is patchy. But intelligence gives grounds for concern and suggests that Iraq is becoming bolder in conducting activities prohibited by UNSCR 687. [JIC, 10 May 2001]
The JIC cautioned that, on Iraq’s nuclear programme: We have no clear intelligence . . . [JIC, 10 May 2001]
It did, however, include the Key Judgement that: There is evidence of increased activity at Iraq’s only remaining nuclear facility and a growing number of reports on possible nuclear related procurement. We judge but cannot confirm that Iraq is conducting nuclear related research and development into the enrichment of uranium and could have longer term plans to produce enriched uranium for a weapon. If successful,this could reduce the time ne eded to develop a nuclear warhead once sanctions were lifted. [JIC, 10 May 2001]
In support of this Key Judgement, the JIC noted once again Iraqi efforts to acquire items for possible inclusion in a uranium enrichment programme using centrifuges, including ‘dual use’ items and aluminium tubes. Intelligence and its interpretation on the latter, which became an issue of some controversy, is covered more fully at Chapter 6. The assessment also noted that Iraq had
. . . recalled its nuclear scientists in 1998.
[JIC, 10 May 2001]
This judgement was based on two human intelligence reports, both from new sources and neither speaking from direct, current experience. Unusually in the nuclear field, we conclude that those reports were given more weight in the JIC assessment than they could reasonably bear.
IRAQ’S CHEMICAL WEAPONS PROGRAMME
The JIC produced a further substantial assessment of Iraq’s chemical (and biological) weapons programme in April 2000. It started with a warning that: