Blix says Iraq war unjustified, threat "over-interpreted".

Former chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix said Thursday the US-led war on Iraq was not justified, and that Washington and London had "over-interpreted" information from their intelligence services.

"No, I don't think so," Blix told BBC radio when asked if the March 20 invasion that led to the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime was justified.

Asked if the United States and Britain had talked up the case for war, Blix -- who led UN weapons inspectors in Iraq in the weeks before the conflict -- replied: "They over-interpreted."

Blix was interviewed on BBC radio's "Today" programme, whose reporter Andrew Gilligan broadcast allegations on May 29 that Prime Minister Tony Blair's government had "sexed up" the case for war.

Gilligan was recalled to testify Wednesday before a judicial inquiry into the July suicide of David Kelly, an expert on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction at the Ministry of Defence who was the source of his report.

Blix told the BBC that the United States and Britain were "convinced" that Saddam Hussein was going in the direction of developing chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

"I think it is understandable against the background of the man that they did so," he said.

"But in the Middle Ages, when people were convinced there were witches, when they looked for them, they certainly found them."

Referring to his team of inspectors inside Iraq, he added: "We were more judicious. We wanted to have the evidence."

Speaking Wednesday with Australian national radio, Blix said Iraq had probably got rid of its weapons of mass destruction at least 10 years ago, but Saddam Hussein had pretended otherwise to deter any attack.

[Source: Agence France-Presse, 18Sep03]

War in Iraq

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