Britain “went to war before peaceful options were exhausted,” says the chairman of the Iraq Inquiry Sir John Chilcot.
He said this in a press conference, ahead of the Iraq Inquiry report release at 11.30 a.m. BST.
Chilcot said that his duty as chair of the Iraq Inquiry was to answer the following questions:
1. Whether it was right and necessary to invade Iraq.
2. Whether the UK was best prepared for the invasion.
The Iraq Inquiry, dubbed the Chilcot Inquiry, is one of the most highly-anticipated political reports in Britain’s history.
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who was in office from 1997-2007, took Britain to war in Iraq in 2003.
The 2.6 million word document is the culmination of a huge investigation that was launched by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2009 into the UK’s involvement in the war in Iraq.
The report, which is estimated to have cost over £10 million ($12.9 million) of taxpayers’ money, has been chaired by former senior civil servant Sir John Chilcot and has taken 7 years to complete.
At the launch in 2009, Chilcot explained:
“This is an Inquiry by a committee of Privy Counsellors. It will consider the period from the summer of 2001 to the end of July 2009, embracing the run-up to the conflict in Iraq, the military action and its aftermath. We will therefore be considering the UK’s involvement in Iraq, including the way decisions were made and actions taken, to establish, as accurately as possible, what happened and to identify the lessons that can be learned. Those lessons will help ensure that, if we face similar situations in future, the government of the day is best equipped to respond to those situations in the most effective manner in the best interests of the country.”
179 British troops died during the 2003 invasion in Iraq and since then, 251,000 combatants and civilians in total have been killed in the country, according to the database The Iraq Body Count.
Politicians, family members of those killed in the Iraq war, and some journalists received reports at 8 a.m. BST — 3.5 hours in advance of the general public release.
Business Insider’s live coverage is here while separate stories from the report will be published from 11.30 a.m. BST onwards.
While the report will cover everything from t
he UK’s understanding of Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction” — or WMD — capability, to the Britain’s “preparedness and actions” in Iraq “as an occupying power,” all eyes will turn to whether former PM Blair will be prosecuted for war crimes.
Previously, there were a number of reports that the International Criminal Court (ICC) definitely would not be prosecuting Blair following the publication of the Chilcot Inquiry.
However, a prosecutor at ICC dismissed reports that the court had totally ruled out prosecuting Blair for war crimes, according to The Times. Fatou Bensouda confirmed that she could investigate “anyone” for war crimes. But, importantly, this action could only be taken against Blair if the following criteria are met:
- It could be proved that Blair knew and approved of offences on the ground in Iraq
- If Britain refuses to investigate the former prime minister
During Wednesday, protesters gathered outside Blair’s London home, calling for him to be brought to trial:
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