FOREIGN AFFAIRS – IRAQ – 26 February 2003

[Mr Kenneth Clarke (Rushcliffe): … I find myself attracted to the motion tabled in the name of the right hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr Smith), in that if we ask ourselves today whether the case for war has yet been established, the House should say that it has not and that there is still a case for giving more time to other, peaceful alternatives for enforcing our objectives.]

Dr Julian Lewis: How much more time should Saddam Hussein be given?

Mr Clarke: We should take as much time as is necessary to achieve disarmament, and we should resort to warfare once it is plain that all other methods are exhausted.]

Dr Lewis: Another 12 years?

Mr Clarke: We have had 12 years, in two or three of which people have done nothing at all. We have had 11 weeks of the present policy and we must judge whether a few weeks more are required.

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[Mrs Patsy Calton (Cheadle): … Yesterday, I asked the House of Commons Library for a briefing note. While the Prime Minister continues to speak of weapons of mass destruction, it is important that we examine the scientific evidence for the likelihood of their being there. The Library says that

"it is impossible to completely prevent the deterioration of chemicals regardless of the environmental and storage precautions taken."]

Dr Lewis: What about anthrax?

[Mrs Calton: I asked the Library about anthrax because the Government have always indicated that anthrax is measured in litres and I was interested in that point. It seems that Iraq has almost always deployed anthrax as wet anthrax. In those circumstances, it is extremely unlikely that that anthrax is still a weapons-grade material. There have been arguments about the storage of anthrax, which is why we need weapons inspectors to examine the situation. A report published on 9 September 2002 states:

"wet anthrax from ... the 1989–90 period – if stored properly – would still be infectious."

Nonetheless, it would have to be stored properly, and the suggestion that it can be moved around is very difficult to support.]