Prime Minister described to us his impression of a growing media picture of military action being imminent, and of a growing clamour for information from the media and from Parliamentarians about why the Government thought that military action was necessary. That led him to conclude that there was a need to put fuller information about Iraq’s nuclear, biological, chemical and ballistic missile programmes into the public domain:
. . . I remember that during the course . . . of July and August . . . I was increasingly getting messages saying . . . “are you about to go to war?” and I was thinking “this is ridiculous” and so I remember towards the end of the holiday actually phoning Bush and saying that we have got to put this in the right place straight away . . . we’ve not decided on military action . . . he was in absolute agreement . . . So we devised the strategy,and this was really the purpose of Camp David . . . wher e we would go down the UN route and . . . the purpose of the dossier was simply to say “this is why we think this is important because here is the intelligence that means that this is not a fanciful view on our part,there is a real issue here” . . . there w as a tremendous clamour coming for it and I think a clamour to the extent that had we resisted it would have become completely impossible.
The dossier was commissioned on 3 September. Its preparation was informed by the existing body of JIC assessments; by drafts covering various aspects of Iraq’s programmes which had been prepared for possible publication during the Spring and Summer; by JIC assessments on Iraq’s nuclear, biological, chemical and ballistic missile programmes produced before the summer break; and also by two further JIC papers published on 21 August on “Saddam’s Diplomatic and Military Options” and on 9 September on “Iraqi use of Chemical and Biological Weapons – Possible Scenarios”.
The JIC assessment of 21 August was prepared at the request of the Ministry of Defence, to:
. . . consider what diplomatic options Saddam has to deter,avert or limit th e scope and effectiveness of a US-led attack [and] . . . his military options for facing a US- led attack.
[JIC, 21 August 2002]
The Key Judgements of that assessment would rightly have been prepared on a precautionary basis. Perhaps for that reason, we have observed that, when set against intelligence on Iraqi programmes contained in advice to Ministers in March, the JIC assessment reflected more firmly the premise that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons and would use them in war. Underpinning this must have been a presumption that, if Iraq did not have stocks of those weapons, it would quickly produce agent, weaponise it and deploy weapons to units. We have noted, for example, the JIC’s judgements in this context that:
We judge that Saddam would probably order missile attacks on Israel and the coalition early on in a conflict in an attempt to attract Israeli retaliation and thus widen the war,split the coalition and arouse popular opinion in the Arab states. Such missiles could be armed with chemical or biological warfare (CBW) agents.