dossier compiled by the government on Saddam Hussein's weapons of
mass destruction was rewritten to make it "sexier", a senior British
official has told the BBC.
UN inspectors failed to find weapons of mass
The claim - hotly denied by Downing Street - came as Prime
Minister Tony Blair became the first Western leader to visit
Published last September, the dossier warned that Saddam Hussein
had the capacity to activate his biological and chemical weapons in
just 45 minutes.
But the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, has suggested that
the weapons might have been destroyed before the fighting began.
The intelligence official told the BBC the dossier had been
"transformed" a week before it was published on the orders of
He said: "The classic example was the statement that weapons of
mass destruction were ready for use within 45 minutes.
"That information was not in the original draft. It was included
in the dossier against our wishes because it wasn't reliable.
"Most things in the dossier were double source but that was
single source and we believe that the source was wrong."
He said "most people in intelligence" were unhappy about the
changes because they "didn't reflect the considered view they were
But the official said he was convinced that Iraq had programme to
produce weapons of mass destruction, and felt it was 30% likely
there was a biological weapons programme.
He said some evidence had been "downplayed" by chief UN weapons
inspector Hans Blix.
But Iraqi scientists captured during the war had not provided
much information as yet, he added.
to the BBC report, Defence Minister Adam Ingram rejected suggestions
that the US-led coalition had effectively gone to war on a false
He said the allegation that Downing Street had demanded changes
to the dossier was untrue.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The war was fought on the
basis of all of the allegations, much of which was substantiated,
not just by a security document produced by our security services,
not concocted by Number 10 or under pressure from Number 10 to
produce it in a particular way...
"[It came from] their best knowledge and their best assessment of
what they could declare into the public domain, based upon the
knowledge of what was out there.
whole world knew what Saddam Hussein was up to in terms of the
weapons of mass destruction and that's why we prosecuted the war and
that's why we were right."
This was echoed by senior sources inside the British intelligence
community, who told the BBC on Thursday night that the heads of
every agency that contributed to the dossier were satisfied with its
They were nervous, however, that this was the first time secret
material had been used in this way to support the government's case
so publicly, the sources added.
Mr Ingram accepted that the suggestion that Saddam had weapons
which could be used within 45 minutes was based on a single source.
But he said the "jigsaw was beginning to come into place" as the
search for weapons goes on.
Mr Blair has said he is still absolutely sure that weapons of
mass destruction will be found.
"Rather than speculating, let's just wait until we get the full
report back from our people who are interviewing the Iraqi
scientists," he said on Wednesday.
Downing Street said: "Not one word of the dossier was not
entirely the work of the intelligence agencies."
The BBC report said the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security
Committee is to conduct an inquiry into the UK Government's claims
about Saddam Hussein's regime.
Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Menzies Campbell said
the report added weight to rumours that the intelligence services
were unhappy about the way their evidence was being used.
Labour MP Tam Dalyell, who opposed the war with Iraq, called for
a Commons statement on the claims.
The new questions over the dossier came as CBS reported that the
bunker that the US attacked in the hope of killing Saddam Hussein at
the beginning of the war never existed.
The American network quoted US Army Tim Madere, who is in charge
of inspecting key sites in Baghdad, as saying there was no trace of
a bunker or of any bodies at the Dora Farms.