The British Government has released an intelligence report accusing Iraq of building nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction.
The British report, released on 24 September, states there is evidence that Iraq is actively seeking weapons of mass destruction. The British Prime Minister Tony Blair presented an intelligence dossier with evidence to his government ministers ahead of a full parliamentary debate.
British intelligence reportstates amongst other that Iraq has:
- military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, including against its own Shia population. Some of these weapons are deployable within 45 minutes of an order to use them;
- tried covertly to acquire technology and materials which could be used in the production of nuclear weapons;
- sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa, despite having no active civil nuclear power programme that could require it;
- pursued illegal programmes to procure materials for use in its illegal development of long range missiles;
- learnt lessons from previous UN weapons inspections and has already begun to conceal sensitive equipment and documentation in advance of the return of inspectors.
Oil prices rose to a 19-month high on due to fears of an attack on Iraq. The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has agreed to keep strict production curbs in place for the fourth quarter although the industrialised countries need more oil. Analysts have warned that global economic recovery could be threatened by surging oil prices.