Why was no assessment of Iraq’s wmd programmes carried out after 18 December 2002?

The Butler Review noted that after an “Initial Assessment”, dated 18 December 2002, of Iraq’s wmd declaration of 7 December, no further assessment was made, either of the accuracy of the Iraqi declaration, or of the substantive issue of whether Iraq had wmd, as UN inspectors failed to find significant evidence of their existence.

Butler commented that the failure to carry out a further assessment of the Iraqi declaration, “despite its importance to the determination of whether Iraq was in further material breach of its disarmament obligations”, was “odd”.

Butler also expressed surprise “that neither policy-makers nor the intelligence community, as the generally negative results of UNMOVIC inspections became increasingly apparent, conducted a formal re-evaluation of the quality of the intelligence and hence of the assessments made on it.” The Review speculates that “those involved appear to have operated on the presumption that the intelligence was right, and that it was because of the combination of Iraqi concealment and deception activities and perceived UNMOVIC weaknesses that such evidence was not found. But this is clearly speculation and the question why no further assessment was made clearly needs to be asked, particularly as Britain also received intelligence in early 2003 that Iraq did not have wmd.

It has also been alleged that in early 2003 MI6 received information from Tahir Jalil Habbush, the head of Iraqi Intelligence, stating that Iraq no longer had wmd. It is not clear what happened to this intelligence. Read more