LONDON, June 19 (Xinhuanet) -- A series of leaked secret
British government memos renewed questions and debates over US motives for
ousting former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, agencies reported Sunday.
One of the eight memos, all labeled
"secret" or "confidential,"showed British Foreign Office political director
Peter Ricketts openly questioning whether Washington had a clear and convincing
reason to go into war with Iraq.
The United States and Britain invaded Iraq in March
2003 under the pretext that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD). No such
weapons have ever been found in Iraq so far.
The memos confirmed that British Prime Minister Tony
Blair was concerned about Iraq's alleged WMD but indicated he was determined to
go to war even though the British government thought a pre-emptive attack may be
illegal under international law.
"The truth is that what has changed is not the pace
of Saddam Hussien's WMD program, but our tolerance of them post-11 September,"
said a March 22, 2002 memo which was written to Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.
"But even the best survey of Iraq's WMD programs will
not show much advance in recent years on the nuclear, missile or CW/BW (chemical
or biological weapons) fronts, the programs are extremely worrying but have not,
as far as we know, been stepped up."
In a memo dated March 14, 2002, Blair's chief foreign
policy adviser David Manning told the prime minister about a dinner he had just
had with then US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, who is now US
secretary of state.
Manning, who now serves as British ambassador to the
United States, said: "We spent a lot of time at dinner on Iraq. It is clear that
(US President George W.) Bush is grateful for your (Blair) support and has
registered that you are getting flak. I said you would not budge in your support
for regime change but youhad to manage a press, a parliament and a public
opinion that was very different than anything in the (United) States. And you
would not budge either in your insistence that, if we pursued regime change, it
must be very carefully done and produce the right result. Failure was not an
The memo dated March 22, 2002 from Ricketts to Straw
said: "US scrambling to establish a link between Iraq and al Qaida is so far
frankly unconvincing. To get public and parliamentary support for military
operations, we have to be convincing that the threat is so serious/imminent that
it is worth sending our troops to die for."
A memo dated March 8, 2002 on Iraq from the Overseas
and Defense secretariat to Cabinet Office said: "Since 1991, our objective has
been to re-integrate a law-abiding Iraq which does not possess WMD or threaten
its neighbors, into the international community. Implicitly, this cannot occur
with Saddam Hussein in power."
A memo dated March 25, 2002 from Straw to Blair said:
"If 11 September had not happened, it is doubtful that the US would now be
considering military action against Iraq. In addition, there has been no
credible evidence to link Iraq with UBL (Osama bin Laden) and al Qaida.
Objectively, the threat from Iraq has not worsened as a result of 11 September."
The eight memos were first obtained by British
reporter Michael Smith who has written about them in the Daily Telegraph and The
Sunday Times. Enditem