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Iraq inquiry: Tony Blair slated for Iran threat claim

Posted by Zand-Bon on Jan 30th, 2010 and filed under INTERNATIONAL NEWS FOCUS, News, Photos. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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By Robin Henry
January 30. 2010

Protestors demonstrated outside the conference centre as Tony Blair gave evidence to the Chilcot inquiry. (Matt Lloyd/Times & Canon Young Photographer of the Year)

Tony Blair’s claims that Iran now poses as serious a threat as Saddam Hussein’s Iraq have been dismissed as a “piece of spin” by the British ambassador to Tehran.

Sir Richard Dalton was fiercely critical of Blair’s testimony at the Iraq inquiry yesterday, in which the former Prime Minister compared Iran’s nuclear proliferation to the perceived threat of Saddam Hussein’s weapons program before the war.

Blair, now a Middle East peace envoy, said the international community must now be prepared to take a “very hard, tough” line with Tehran.

He also attacked Iran for supporting the Islamic extremist insurgency after the Iraq regime had been toppled, saying it had nearly caused the coalition mission to fail.

However today Sir Richard said Blair was only suggesting a harder line with Iran to justify his own military action against Iraq.

“To say that Iran was the principal reason seemed to me to be part of a broader argument which he was trying to make, namely that it makes what he did in Iraq look better if he extends it to the future and says the policies then might have to be applied,” the ambassador said.

“But Iran is a completely different situation.”

He also warned that the next government should make it clear they would not pursue the same action.

Sir Richard told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “One result of Tony Blair’s intervention on Iran – he mentioned Iran 58 times – is to put the question of confronting Iran into play in the election.”

“We need to be much clearer, as voters, with our politicians and with our candidates that we expect a different behaviour and a greater integrity in our democracy next time.”

Blair raised Iran during his day-long questioning at yesterday’s session of the Iraq Inquiry.

In explaining his reasons for going to war, he said: “My fear was — and I would say I hold this fear stronger today than I did back then as a result of what Iran particularly today is doing — my fear is that states that are highly repressive or failed, the danger of a WMD link is that they become porous, they construct all sorts of different alliances with people.”

He went on to blame Tehran for destabilising the Iraq in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion.

Blair said despite extensive planning they had not foreseen the role played by al-Qaeda and Iran in fomenting the insurgency that broke out.

He added: “The real problem is that our focus was on the issues that in the end were not the issues that caused us the difficulty.”

“People didn’t think that al-Qaeda and Iran would play the role that they did. It was really the external elements of al-Qaeda and Iran that really caused this mission very nearly to fail.”

He also claimed Iraq may have become involved in a race against Iran to develop nuclear weapons if Saddam’s regime had not been removed.

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