Blair defends decision to go to war in Iraq

FORMER British prime minister Tony Blair has said war with Iran cannot be ruled out as he defended the decision to invade Iraq.

In Ireland to promote his new book, Mr Blair was grilled last night about how he could justify the war when no weapons of mass destruction were found.

“In the end we took the decision for the reasons we gave,” he said. “[It is] a decision that is life and death. You don’t take it lightly. Political leaders take these decisions in good faith. We thought it was right. It was probably the single most difficult decision I ever took both in respect of Afghanistan and Iraq. I still think we have this fundamentalist, extremist threat which is based on a perversion of the religion of Islam that is still there and we have to deal with it.”

He said Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against his own people and thousands of them died.

“He used them in the Iran/Iraq war. He put the programme into abeyance. He got rid of the weapons but he kept the scientists and he kept the laboratories. The evidence was that he had them and had developed them. The scientists were retained. The intent was retained.”

To back his argument Mr Blair referred to the September 11 attack on New York and said at the time his thought was, not only about those who had died but also that while there were 3,000 casualties “if they could have it would have been 30,000 or 300,000”.

Mr Blair said the same decision as he had to take about Iraq needs to be taken about Iran.

“It would be a disaster if Iran gets a nuclear weapon. You have got to try sanctions, you have got to try diplomacy but you cannot rule anything out if they carry on developing a nuclear capability.”

The ex-British prime minister will today encounter anti-war protestors when he signs copies of his book at Eason in Dublin and last night he spoke about the opposition he faced now and at the time over the Iraq war.

“You cant take decisions on the basis of people with placards,” he said. “You have to take decisions on the basis of what you think is right. Those who shout loudest are not necessarily those who you should listen to most.”

In the interview on the Late Late Show, Mr Blair also talked about Irish grandparents, spending summers in Rossnowlagh and the fact his grandfather was an Orange Man.

He also spoke about his role in the North peace talks and confirmed his impression of Bertie Ahern as being “cunning”.

“He was cunning, but in the best sense of the word. It was really hard, you were having conversations with people, Sinn Féin and unionists who had a deep entrenched hatred. You required a bit of cunning to get through that.”


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