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WMD claims were "totally implausible"


Richard Norton-Taylor
Monday June 20, 2005
The Guardian

A key Foreign Office diplomat responsible for liaising with UN inspectors says today that claims the government made about Iraq's weapons programme were "totally implausible".

He tells the Guardian: "I'd read the intelligence on WMD for four and a half years, and there's no way that it could sustain the case that the government was presenting. All of my colleagues knew that, too".

Carne Ross, who was a member of the British mission to the UN in New York during the run-up to the invasion, resigned from the FO last year, after giving evidence to the Butler inquiry.

He thought about publishing his testimony because he felt so angry. But he was warned that if he did he might be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act.

"There was a very good alternative to war that was never properly pursued, which was to close down Saddam's sources of illegal revenue", he says.

Mr Ross also says sanctions imposed against Iraq were wrong. "They did immeasurable damage to the Iraqi civilian population. We were conscious of that but we did too little to address it", he says.

Earlier, after the September 11 attacks on the US, Mr Ross spent six weeks in Afghanistan negotiating with warlords. "The allies didn't understand Afghanistan," he says. "They didn't have sufficient forces on the ground, were trapped in their fortified compounds, naive about the the willingness of the warlords to cede power, and were far too optimistic that opium production could be curtailed."

Mr Ross has set up a consultancy and advisory service, Independent Diplomat, and wants to raise awareness about the plight of the Saharawi people, displaced by Morocco from Western Sahara in defiance of the UN security council.

He plans to visit the 150,000 refugees from Western Sahara encamped across the border in northwest Algeria. "British policy is to do nothing because British interests dictate that fairly minuscule trade with Morocco is more important," he said.

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