Blix: Iraq Evidence 'Dramatized'

Prime Minister Tony Blair's government "dramatized" some of its prewar evidence about the threat posed by Iraq, former chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix said Sunday.

On the British Broadcasting Corp.'s "Breakfast with Frost" program, Blix said it was unclear what was meant by the claim in a September 2002 intelligence dossier that Iraq could deploy some weapons of mass destruction on 45 minutes' notice.

"The intention was to dramatize it just as the vendors of some merchandise are trying to increase and exaggerate the importance of what they have," he said. "From politicians, from our leaders in the Western world, I think we expect more than that. A bit more sincerity."

A senior judge investigating the suicide of a government weapons expert recently said a BBC report that officials put the 45 minute claim in the dossier against intelligence expert's wishes was unfounded. He said the scientist's allegation, quoted by the BBC, that officials had "sexed up" the dossier was also unfounded.

Blix, whose team of U.N. inspectors did not make any significant weapons finds during months of searching Iraq before the war, said it was clear now that there were no weapons of mass destruction there before the U.S.-led invasion.

"I think we issued the correct warning. Nevertheless, they did not take that seriously," he said.

"We would all like to see the truth come out after all this wrangling," he added. "And we now know that there were no weapons of mass destruction when the invasion started. Now we hear a case saying that 'Well, there were programs, there were laboratories that were suitable ... or there were intentions. I would say, all right, let's have evidence of that."

Blix said Western intelligence agencies had been too willing to believe questionable information from Iraqi defectors.

"However, the other side of it I think is the spin the politicians have given to it," he said. "I have never said that I think Prime Minister Blair or President Bush were in bad faith. But I do see that how they express themselves has to do with information management."

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