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Breakfast Monday, 9 September, 2002, 05:36 GMT 06:36 UK
Iraq's weapons details published
Tony Blair and George W Bush
Blair and Bush both plan to publish evidence
A major study of Saddam Hussein's arsenal of weapons is expected to show that he does have significant amounts of chemical and biological weapons, and could produce nuclear warheads with the assistance of other countries.

The report, published by the Institute of Strategic Studies, will be released later this morning.

It comes as Tony Blair is expected to call for the United Nations to impose a deadline on Iraq - to allow weapons inspectors in, or risk attack.

Just what sort of weapons does Saddam Hussein possess? the London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies' report should provide as accurate a guide as possible to his military might.

  • IRAQI WEAPONS ARSENAL UN weapons inspectors were withdrawn in December 1998 and have not been allowed back since.

  • BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS But it is thought that Iraq currently has thousands of litres of anthrax, botulinan and other biological agents...

  • CHEMICAL WEAPONS: along with a hundred tonnes of mustard and nerve gases.

  • BALLISTIC WEAPONS: Iraq probably retains a dozen ballistic missiles with a range of six-hundred and fifty kilometres - capable of hitting Iran, Turkey and Israel.

  • NUCLEAR WEAPONS: One of the major concerns is that Saddam may be developing nuclear weapons. It's thought it would take several years for him to build a bomb , but he could have one within months if he gets supplies from a foreign source.

    Tony Blair has returned from his weekend meeting with President Bush resolute on taking action over Iraq, but facing mounting opposition at home. Here, peace campaigners are stepping up their efforts to prevent a full scale assault.

    We spoke to Matt Barr from the campaign group Voices in the Wilderness. He said:

    The reason we are going to Iraq is to do some face ot face diplomacy. we are going to see what it is like for the ordinary person. We are also visiting some key civilian installations ie sewage and water. We are not martyrs, we want to come home safely to our loves ones. there are 23 million people in Iraq. Military action is not the answer.

    And we talked to Dr John Chipman of the International Institute of Strategic Studies.

    The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) has carried out its study using the data available on Saddam Hussein's stockpiles of conventional as well as chemical and biological weapons.

    With pressure mounting on Tony Blair and George Bush to publish their own dossiers, the document is likely to add to the debate about possible military action.

    On Sunday the prime minister returned from a meeting with the US president resolute on taking action over Iraq, but facing mounting opposition at home.

    Former senior UN weapons inspector in Iraq, Scott Ritter, told politicians in Baghdad that their country is not a threat to the rest of the world and military action against it would be unjustified.

    Chemical agents

    Whether the IISS assessment will say anything new is not clear, as it follows a great deal of information published in recent years about Iraq's efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction.

    We need clearly to have far greater evidence in relation to the existing threat

    Donald Anderson MP
    In Washington the well regarded Centre for Strategic and International Studies updated its own assessment just three months ago.

    It concluded that Iraq almost certainly possessed large quantities of biological and chemical agents and could easily produce more.

    It said Iraq would need at least five years and significant foreign assistance to construct a nuclear weapon, but that it could do so much more quickly if it could find enough nuclear material abroad.

    Monday's document, from the IISS, is unlikely to paint a very different picture.

    But a timely summary of Iraq's capabilities will be seized upon by those who argue that it poses a threat which cannot be ignored.

    Tough time

    Returning from Camp David, Mr Blair said he and the president had developed a "shared strategy" based on a determination that the country's weapons of mass destruction must be destroyed.

    I think we are a long way from being convinced

    Tony Lloyd MP
    On Tuesday he will use a speech to the Trades Union Congress to push for action.

    Mr Blair will say that while the United Nations should deal with the issue, Saddam Hussein cannot be allowed to flout its resolutions "year after year, after year".

    The prime minister is also planning to brief senior MPs over the coming weeks but many Labour politicians are yet to be convinced of the case for military action.

    Father of the House of Commons, Tam Dalyell, called for an emergency parliamentary debate.

    He added that nothing Mr Blair had said so far had convinced him that a pre-emptive strike was necessary.

    'Serious doubts'

    President Bush is due to address the United Nations on Thursday in a speech US officials say will demand fast, decisive action from the international body.

    Both the US and UK governments say they have proof Iraq has biological and chemical weapons and the potential for a nuclear capability.

    Mr Blair has promised to publish a dossier showing this in a few weeks' time.

    He is due to visit Moscow in the next few weeks to brief Russian premier Vladimir Putin who has already said he has "serious doubts" about military action against Iraq.

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    See also:

    09 Sep 02 | Americas
    08 Sep 02 | Politics
    08 Sep 02 | Middle East
    08 Sep 02 | Politics
    08 Sep 02 | Politics
    07 Sep 02 | Politics

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