To be more specific:

Who said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction in 2003?

By "weapons of mass destruction", I mean atomic, biological, or chemical weapons.

I'm looking for official government people -- presidents, prime ministers, secretaries of state, etc.

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    It may be difficult to distinguish between people who believed he had WMDs and people who said they believed he had WMDs. – Keith Thompson Aug 11 '12 at 3:14
  • Belief is a tough to ascertain thing. People have different agenda --what they publicly portray may not be what they believe. If you want an answer on public portrayal (true or false) of belief then that can be answered. – Apoorv Aug 11 '12 at 4:55
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    This is one of those open ended questions that doesn't really have a practical answer, see the FAQ if you are unsure on what kinds of questions to ask: history.stackexchange.com/faq#dontask If you want to rescope the question you can ask to have it reopened, for now I am closing since this is either going to be about personal beliefs, or be speculative. – MichaelF Aug 11 '12 at 10:52
  • Welcome to History:Stack Exchange. Thank you for your question; please consider revising it to be more in line with our community expectations. Like many other stacks, we expect questions to provide evidence of prior research. That helps us to understand the question, and avoids our repeating work you've already done. Our help center, and other stacks provide additional resources to assist with revisions. – MCW Jan 25 at 12:25
  • @MarkC.Wallace This question was asked and last edited OVER EIGHT YEARS AGO. What on earth is the purpose of your comment? – C Monsour Jan 26 at 12:24

One thing that should be clarified is that it is a fact that Saddam Hussein's Iraq had WMD's at one point. We know this, because he used them on his own Kurdish population in 1988. At issue in 2003 was if he still had them, or if he'd dismantled them all, and his production program, as he'd agreed to do at the end of the first Gulf War.

Now, it would perhaps be easier to list who didn't think Iraq still had WMD's in 2003.

One name on that (much shorter) list would be Hans Blix, the guy in charge of weapons inspections for Iraq. In other words, the person most in a position to make that assessment. He made a statement before the war started that he thought they pretty much had all of Iraq's WMD source material accounted for. This was much derided by the right wing in America at the time.

A large part of the problem was that Iraq acted like they had WMD's. They were constantly refusing inspectors access to certian sites, then waiting a while and letting them back in. They were refusing access to scientists. They were just not cooperating in a way that didn't make much sense unless they had something to hide.

The explanation I've heard for this since was that Hussein felt like the weapons were a deterrent to Iran, and wanted Iran to believe he still had them. Sadly for him (and many others), he ended up decieving the wrong people.

  • 8
    LOL @ "deceiving the wrong people". – Apoorv Aug 14 '12 at 13:58
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    That was always my assertion in arguments with people around the time, for Saddam acting like he had them was a deterrent to Iran. Giving that up would make him look weak, and potentially cause him to lose power, which it did anyway. Catch-22 by that point. – MichaelF Aug 15 '12 at 8:35
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    @DavidNavarre - My problem with "he may have had them because" arguments is that there are a lot of people, particularly here in the USA, who very badly want to believe that he had them. This isn't a productive way to reason about things at all. IMHO that means any such argument needs to be viewed with a couple of extra helpings of skepticisim. The assumption should be that he had neither WMD's nor super new railguns ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_gun#Practical_attempts ) nor tactical unicorns unless someone produces pretty compelling proof otherwise. – T.E.D. Aug 15 '12 at 17:57
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    It doesn't matter much to me whether he actually had them or not, since, as you noted, he tried to make everyone think he did. – David Navarre Aug 15 '12 at 20:49
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    @DavidNavarre The casus belli was based on fabricated evidence. It was not primarily based on Husseins “suspicious behaviour“, which in any case would not have been sufficient to justify a war. – mzuba Aug 17 '12 at 12:39

George Bush in October 2002:

The Iraqi regime has violated all of those obligations. It possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons.

Bush in March 2003:

Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised. This regime has already used weapons of mass destruction against Iraq's neighbors and against Iraq's people.

Tony Blair on multiple ocassions:

  • April 3, 2002: "We know that he [Saddam Hussein] has stockpiles of major amounts of chemical and biological weapons… "
  • April 10, 2002: "However, there is no doubt at all that the development of weapons of mass destruction by Saddam Hussein poses a severe threat not just to the region, but to the wider world."
  • On September 24, 2002 in the foreword to the Dodgy Dossier: "the assessed intelligence has established beyond doubt is that Saddam has continued to produce chemical and biological weapons, that he continues in his efforts to develop nuclear weapons"
  • Also on September 24, 200: "It [the dossier] concludes… that he has existing and active military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, which could be activated within 45 minutes"
  • January 21, 2003: "In respect of Iraq we have the clearest possible evidence, both because of what they have done before and what is left over from the previous inspections when the inspectors were kicked out in 1998"
  • February 25, 2003: "It was only four years later after the defection of Saddam's son-in-law [Hussein Kamal] to Jordan, that the offensive biological weapons and the full extent of the nuclear programme were discovered."
  • Also on February 25, 2003: "On 8 December he [Saddam Hussein] submitted the declaration denying he had any WMD, a statement not a single member of the international community seriously believes."

George Bush and Blair on September 7, 2002:

Q: Mr. President, can you tell us what conclusive evidence of any nuclear – new evidence you have of nuclear weapons capabilities of Saddam Hussein? THE PRESIDENT: We just heard the prime minister talk about the new report. I would remind you that when the inspectors first went into Iraq and were denied – finally denied access, a report came out of the IAEA that they were six months away from developing a weapon. I don't know what more evidence we need. PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: Absolutely right. And what we – what we know from what has been going on there for a long period of time is not just the chemical, biological weapons capability, but we know that they were trying to develop nuclear weapons capability.

British Liberal Democrat MP Menzies Campbell on September 24, 2002 in a parliamentary session:

We can all agree—it has already been a measure of the debate—that Saddam Hussein is an evil tyrant with no regard for the sanctity of human life, for either his own citizens or the people of other countries. We all agree that he is in flagrant breach of a series of UN resolutions, and in particular those relating to his duty to allow the inspection, and indeed participate in the destruction, of his weapons of mass destruction. We can also agree that he most certainly has chemical and biological weapons and is working towards a nuclear capability.

Labour MP Donald Anderson stated in the same session:

Saddam Hussein himself has given a firm assurance that "Iraq is clear of all nuclear, chemical and biological weapons". I hope that no one in the House believes that, and that we shall proceed in a spirit of total scepticism in regard to anything said in that respect.

Dick Cheney in August 2002:

Simply stated, there’s no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us.

Cheney on March 16, 2003:

We believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons

Colin Powell in a speech to the UN on February 5, 2003:

we know from sources that a missile brigade outside Baghdad was disbursing rocket launchers and warheads containing biological warfare agents to various locations, distributing them to various locations in western Iraq. Most of the launchers and warheads have been hidden in large groves of palm trees and were to be moved every one to four weeks to escape detection

It is falsification of history to say that everyone or almost everyone believed Saddam had WMDs. They most certainly did not! Between six and ten million people in 60 countries marched in protest against the war on February 15, 2003. Those who marched (including me) believed that Bush was planning a war for oil and the WMDs were his BS excuse. Bush, when asked about the protests, replied "I respectfully disagree".

  • And Colin Powell said all of this at UN: "While we were here in this council chamber debating Resolution 1441 last fall, we know, we know from sources that a missile brigade outside Baghdad was disbursing rocket launchers and warheads containing biological warfare agents to various locations, distributing them to various locations in western Iraq. Most of the launchers and warheads have been hidden in large groves of palm trees and were to be moved every one to four weeks to escape detection" – paulj Jan 25 at 14:54
  • Rather interesting that you don't list, for example, Bill Clinton, who stated as late as February 2003 that Saddam had WMDs. Or Ted Kennedy saying pretty much the same thing in 2002. Or various other politicians of various stripes. So were these left out of your list out of ignorance, or out of tendentiousness? – Meir Jan 26 at 19:36
  • Which statement are you referring to? – Björn Lindqvist Jan 27 at 7:38
  • @Meir pretty sure Clinton did not hold any government position in 2003, so he wouldn't fit the question's parameter of "official government people". – Danila Smirnov Jan 28 at 9:46
  • @DanilaSmirnov And I'm pretty sure that a former president, who said as much during his presidency as well, counts for this purpose. In any case, Kennedy held a government position at that time. – Meir Jan 28 at 14:54

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