Reference to Israel in Britain’s Iraq weapons dossier hushed up

February 22nd, 2008 - 5:33 pm ICT by admin  

London, Feb 22 (IANS) A handwritten comment in a secret British dossier on Iraq’s weapons prepared before the 2003 US invasion of the country had expressed concerns over Israel’s nuclear capability, but the reference was suppressed by the then Tony Blair government, according to a daily here. The Guardian newspaper said Thursday Tony Blair’s Labour government convinced the Information Tribunal to keep secret the handwritten mention of Israel on the margin of the dossier, which was drawn up to justify going to war in Iraq, the WAM news agency reported Friday.

The government de-classified the document Monday after freedom of information campaigners fought for three years for its publication.

The reference, suggesting Israel, like Iraq, had disregarded the will of the United Nations in pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, was removed as directed by the government to avoid tension in British-Israel relations, the paper said.

“I interpret this note to indicate that the person who wrote it believes that Israel has flouted the United Nations’ authority in a manner similar to that of the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein,” the official told the tribunal, according to the Guardian.

He argued that the reference scribbled on the draft dossier would only confirm a perception of Jerusalem that there were elements in the Foreign Office critical of Israel possessing a nuclear arsenal and would damage relations with that country.

The 32-page document, written by a former director of communications at the Foreign Office, cites intelligence sources to state that Iraq had stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and could easily use them since it had done so before.

The document, amended in the margins, makes no mention of Saddam Hussein being capable of launching weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes, a claim that was later used in another government dossier to make the case for going to war, the daily said.

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