U.S. Allies Were Not Persuaded By U.S. Assertions on Iraq WMD

June 9, 2003

Despite the Bush Administration’s assertions, allies of the United States did not fully agree with the Administration’s assessment on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Prior to the war in Iraq, some foreign countries questioned U.S. assertions on WMD presence in Iraq. Now, some in the U.S. Congress question whether or not the intelligence agencies manipulated intelligence to gain support for the war in Iraq. However, the White House insists that U.S. intelligence on Iraq’s WMD were fairly presented. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice said that the efforts of the Saddam Hussein regime to conceal its actions “clearly give a picture of a regime that had weapons of mass destruction and was determined to conceal them.”1

The debate on Iraqi WMD continues. For example, Russia was not convinced by either the September 24, 2002 British dossier or the October 4, 2002 CIA report. Lacking sufficient evidence, Russia dismissed the claims as a part of a “propaganda furor.”2 Specifically targeting the CIA report, Putin said, “Fears are one thing, hard facts are another.” He goes on to say, “Russia does not have in its possession any trustworthy data that supports the existence of nuclear weapons or any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and we have not received any such information from our partners yet. This fact has also been supported by the information sent by the CIA to the US Congress.”3 However, Putin was apprehensive about the possibility that Iraq may have WMDs and he therefore supported inspections. The Russian ambassador to London thought that the dossier was a document of concern. “It is impressive, but not alwaysconvincing.”4

French intelligence services did not come up with the same alarming assessment of Iraq and WMD as did the Britain and the United States. “According to secret agents at the DGSE, Saddam’s Iraq does not represent any kind of nuclear threat at this timeIt [the French assessment] contradicts the CIA’s analysis”5 French spies said that the Iraqi nuclear threat claimed by the United States was a “phony threat.”6

After Secretary of State Colin Powell’s speech on February 5, 2003 to the United Nations Security Council, the focus of discussion among U.S. allies changed. France, Russia, and Germany did not find Powell’s “evidence” strong enough to support the U.S.’s stance on the Iraqi threat. However, having already questioned the veracity of the dossier and CIA report, they instead concentrated on persuading the international community to continue UN inspections. Other experts said that the evidence is not sufficient enough to prove that Iraq has WMDs. However, what Secretary of State Powell did prove was that Iraq was capable of producing WMDs.

1 “Bush says he’s convinced Iraqi weapons will be found,”, June 9, 2003.
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2 “China says studying British dossier on Iraq,” Reuters, September 26, 2002.
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3 Michael White, “Putin demands proof over Iraqi weapons,” The Guardian, October 12, 2002.
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4 Simon Jeffery, “Putin calls for political solution to Iraq crisis,” The Guardian, Sept 26, 2002.
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5 “French Intelligence Service Assesses Iraqi War Potential,” FBIS, Sept 25, 2002.
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6 “French Intelligence Service Assesses Iraqi War Potential,” FBIS, Sept 25, 2002.
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