Iraq

Chilcot Report: The Iraq Inquiry's Key Findings

Thirteen years after British troops went into Iraq, Sir John Chilcot has delivered a verdict on the military engagement.

Thirteen years after British troops crossed into Iraq, Sir John Chilcot delivered a scathing verdict on the UK's most controversial military engagement of the post-war era.

Politicians from former Prime Minister Tony Blair downwards, as well as Whitehall staff and senior Army officers, have all come in for criticism in the Iraq Inquiry, which has taken seven years to complete.

It found that Britain chose to join the US-led invasion before "peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted".

The severity of the threat posed by Iraq was found to have been presented with an unjustified certainty and made on the basis of flawed intelligence which should have been challenged, with Saddam Hussein posing "no imminent threat" at the time of invasion.

The report also labelled the preparation for Iraq after Hussein as "wholly inadequate."

See below for a summary of the Chilcot report's key points:

  • "We have concluded that the UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. Military action at that time was not a last resort."
  • "The judgements about the severity of the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction – WMD – were presented with a certainty that was not justified."
  • "Despite explicit warnings, the consequences of the invasion were underestimated. The planning and preparations for Iraq after Saddam Hussein were wholly inadequate."
  • "The government failed to achieve its stated objectives."

 

LEGALITY

"In the absence of a majority in support of military action we consider the UK was in fact undermining the [UN] Security Council's authority. 

"We have, however, concluded that the circumstances in which it was decided that there was a legal basis for UK military action were far from satisfactory. "

"Given the gravity of the decision, Lord Goldsmith should have been asked to provide written advice explaining how, in the absence of a majority in the Security Council, Mr Blair could take that decision."

INTELLIGENCE 

"The judgements about Iraq's capabilities... and in the dossier published the same day were presented with a certainty that was not justified. 

"The Joint Intelligence Committee should have made clear to Mr Blair that the assessed intelligence had not established “beyond doubt” that either Iraq had continued to produce chemical and biological weapons or that efforts to develop nuclear weapons continued. 

"It is now clear that policy on Iraq was made on the basis of flawed intelligence assessments. They were not challenged and they should have been."

Former prime ministerTony Blair gave his reaction to the Chilcot Report findings

PLANNING AND PREPARATIONS 

"There was little time to prepare three brigades and the risks were neither properly identified nor fully exposed to ministers. The resulting equipment shortfalls are addressed in the report. 

"Mr Blair told the Inquiry that the difficulties encountered in Iraq after the invasion could not have been known in advance. We do not agree that hindsight is required. The risks of internal strife in Iraq, active Iranian pursuit of its interests, regional instability, and Al-Qaeda activity in Iraq were each explicitly identified before the invasion."

"The Armed Forces fought a successful military campaign which took Basra and helped achieve the departure of Saddam Hussein and the fall of Baghdad in less than a month. 

"The government's preparations failed to take account of the magnitude of the task of stabilising, administering, and reconstructing Iraq and the responsibilities which were likely to fall to the UK."

MILITARY MATTERS

"We have found that the Ministry of Defence was slow in responding to the threat from Improvised Explosive Devices and that delays in providing adequate medium-weight protected patrol vehicles should not have been tolerated."

"It was not clear which person or department in the Ministry of Defence was responsible for identifying and articulating such capability gaps. But it should have been. 

"From 2006 the UK military was conducting two enduring campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. It did not have sufficient resources to do so. Decisions on resources for Iraq were affected by the demands of the operation in Afghanistan."

"For example, the deployment to Afghanistan had a material impact on the availability of essential equipment in Iraq, particularly helicopters and equipment for surveillance and intelligence collection. 

"By 2007 militia dominance in Basra, which UK military commanders were unable to challenge, led to the UK exchanging detainee releases for an end to the targeting of its forces. 

"It was humiliating that the UK reached a position in which an agreement with a militia group which had been actively targeting UK forces was considered the best option available. 

"The UK military role in Iraq ended a long way from success."