Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction/Part 1/Chapter 1

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  1. Since UN inspectors were withdrawn from Iraq in 1998, there has been little overt information on Iraq’s chemical, biological, nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. Much of the publicly available information about Iraqi capabilities and intentions is dated. But we also have available a range of secret intelligence about these programmes and Saddam Hussein’s intentions. This comes principally from the United Kingdom’s intelligence and analysis agencies – the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the Security Service, and the Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS). We also have access to intelligence from close allies.
  2. Intelligence rarely offers a complete account of activities which are designed to remain concealed. The nature of Saddam’s regime makes Iraq a difficult target for the intelligence services. Intelligence, however, has provided important insights into Iraqi programmes and Iraqi military thinking. Taken together with what is already known from other sources, this intelligence builds our understanding of Iraq’s capabilities and adds significantly to the analysis already in the public domain. But intelligence sources need to be protected, and this limits the detail that can be made available.
  3. Iraq’s capabilities have been regularly reviewed by the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), which has provided advice to the Prime Minister and his senior colleagues on the developing assessment, drawing on all available sources. Part 1 of this paper includes some of the most significant views reached by the JIC between 1999 and 2002.

    Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC)

    The JIC is a Cabinet Committee with a history dating back to 1936. The JIC brings together the Heads of the three Intelligence and Security Agencies (Secret Intelligence Service, Government Communications Headquarters and the Security Service), the Chief of Defence Intelligence, senior policy makers from the Foreign Office, the Ministry of Defence, the Home Office, the Treasury and the Department of Trade and Industry and representatives from other Government Departments and Agencies as appropriate. The JIC provides regular intelligence assessments to the Prime Minister, other Ministers and senior officials on a wide range of foreign policy and international security issues. It meets each week in the Cabinet Office.