By early 2002, therefore, readers of JIC assessments will have had an impression of:
The continuing clear strategic intent on the part of the Iraqi regime to pursue its nuclear, biological, chemical and ballistic missile programmes.
Continuing efforts by the Iraqi regime to sustain and where possible develop its indigenous capabilities, including through procurement of necessary materiel.
The development, drawing on those capabilities, of Iraq’s ‘break-out’ potential in the chemical, biological and ballistic missile fields, coupled with the proven ability to weaponise onto some delivery systems chemical and biological agent.
It is right to remember, too, the international context within which those making and reading the JIC assessments were working. For the small group of policy-makers with access to the most sensitive JIC assessments, there were increasing concerns about proliferation elsewhere, including in the countries and through the networks described at Chapters 2 and 3. Thus, by early 2002, the JIC was concluding that AQ Khan had been marketing components and expertise related to the production of highly enriched uranium, suitable for use in nuclear weapons, for more than a decade; and, worse, that Khan had moved his base outside Pakistan and demand for his products had increased to the extent that he had now established his own production facilities and a network of associates and suppliers. It was also reporting on the evidence found, as a result of military operations in Afghanistan, of Usama bin Laden’s efforts to seek unconventional weapons. Finally, senior policy-makers were also pre-occupied with the crisis between India and Pakistan and the nuclear risks which that posed.
All of this will have contributed to a strong sense of what one witness called a “creeping tide” of proliferation and growth in the nuclear, biological, chemical and ballistic missile capabilities of countries of concern. The Prime Minister described it to us as follows: . . . what I was getting was a picture of,not that there were extra States nece ssarily coming into the proliferation and WMD business but that those States that were pushing on this were very determined,they were mainly States that you woul d not want to have this type of stuff because of their unstable and repressive nature and there were certainly suggestions that the potential link with terrorism, and there was also . . . quite a lot of stuff about Bin Laden and his desire to acquire WMD of one sort or another and I was quite often saying . . . “what are we actually doing about this” . . . there was a lot to make me concerned about this and actually at the first meeting I had with George Bush in February 2001 I raised it with him but . . . after September 11th it took on a completely different aspect. . . . what changed for me with September 11th was that I thought then you have to change your mindset . . . you have to go out and get after the different aspects of this threat . . . you have to deal with this because otherwise the threat will grow . . . you have to take a stand, you have to say “Right we are not going to allow the development of WMD in breach of the will of the international community to continue”.