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Blair Defends War in Iraq - 2004-02-05


Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair defended his decision to go to war in Iraq amid shouts from protesters calling him a "murderer."

Mr. Blair told parliament the war was the right decision even though weapons inspectors have failed to locate any stockpiles of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

He stressed that since the fall of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein inspectors have found laboratories, documents and scientists who had been told to conceal the capabilities of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. Britain and the United States cited Iraq's weapons of mass destruction as the key reason for the war.

Mr. Blair's speech today came during a debate on the findings of a judicial inquiry into the apparent suicide of an arms expert linked to a controversial news report on Iraq's pre-war weapons program.

Lawmakers briefly suspended the session when protesters began shouting criticisms of the government's claims on Iraq weapons, and called the judicial inquiry a "whitewash."

Last week the judge in the inquiry cleared the government of exaggerating Iraq's pre-war weapons threat. He also ruled the government was not responsible for the death of weapons expert David Kelly.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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