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Weapons Of Mass Destruction

Volume 409: debated on Friday 18 July 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made since the end of the conflict in Iraq in the search for weapons of mass destruction; and what quantities of weapons of mass destruction have been found. [126084]

[holding answer 16 July 2003]: Coalition forces and specialist personnel of the Iraq Survey Group are actively pursuing sites, documentation and individuals connected with Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programmes. We are investing significant effort in the search. The process will be painstaking.There have been some successes: the discovery of mobile laboratories which bear a striking resemblance to those described in US Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation to the UN Security Council in March 2003; and the recent recovery of a large quantity of documents relating to Iraq's nuclear programme together with parts of a gas centrifuge which had been hidden since 1991 by an Iraqi scientist formerly engaged on Iraq's nuclear programme. We anticipate that more scientists previously employed on Iraq's WMD programmes will start to come forward with evidence and equipment.Any finds clearly must be very carefully analysed and assessed. This process is continuing. When we have collated the evidence, it will be presented appropriately and properly.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has forwarded to the International Atomic Energy Agency the intelligence from an unnamed third country, regarding Iraq's supposed attempt to buy uranium from Niger. [126313]

No. Under long-established agreements such intelligence may only be shared with others with the express permission of the originating agency. We have encouraged all states that have relevant information to pass it to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action was taken in response to information that Iraq had been trying to obtain uranium from an African source; when he was first informed that Mr. Joseph Wilson had been sent to Niger to investigate whether Iraq was seeking uranium yellowcake from Niger; when he asked for the Wilson Report from the US Central Intelligence Agency; what discussions on the allegations he has had with officials of the United States Government since February 2002; and if he will make a statement on the source of United Kingdom intelligence on Iraqi interests in uranium from Niger. [126443]

The Government was not aware of Ambassador Wilson's visit to Niger until recent media reports. The Government of the United States did not brief us on the visit at the time, but has now given us a comprehensive account of his report. I cannot comment further as it is the longstanding practice of successive Governments not to comment on intelligence matters.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to his answer of 3 July 2003, Official Report, column 456W, on Iraq, if he will make a statement on the UK Government's obligations under Article 10 of Security Council Resolution 1441 to pass to the International Atomic Energy Agency the information upon which it bases its assessment that Saddam Hussein's regime attempted to obtain uranium from Africa. [126582]

The UK has encouraged all states that have relevant information to pass it to the UN weapons inspection teams. The information upon which the assessment was made that Saddam Hussein's regime had attempted to procure uranium from Africa came from the intelligence service of another Government. Under the terms of long-established agreements covering the sharing of intelligence information, no Government can pass on such information to anyone else without the express consent of its originator.