By Jason Beattie 28/11/2009
The Iraq War was legal but not “legitimate” for a democratic country, Britain’s former UN ambassador said yesterday.
Sir Jeremy Greenstock told the Iraq inquiry that the 2003 invasion did not have the backing of the UN or the majority of British people, “so there was a failure to establish legitimacy”.
He said he believed the US and the UK could establish legality under UN resolutions if Iraq was shown to have breached disarmament rules. But a “final” verdict was never likely to be made.
And Sir Jeremy, Britain’s top diplomat at the UN from 1998 to 2003, added: “If you do something the majority of UN states think is wrong, illegitimate or politically unjustifiable, you are taking a risk.
“I regard our participation in Iraq in 2003 as legal but of questionable legitimacy in that it didn’t have the backing of the majority of member states.”
On another day of explosive evidence Sir Jeremy also revealed he threatened to quit unless Tony Blair kept trying to find diplomatic solutions or unless the UN agreed on a resolution guaranteeing legal backing for military action. He said he had pushed for the invasion to be put back six months to give inspectors more time to discover whether Saddam Hussein really had the “smoking gun” of WMD.
But he told the inquiry panel that by then the US push for military action was “much too strong”.
Sir Jeremy said: “What we were left with by the failure of diplomacy was the US set of reasons for going to war not the British ones.”
He also told the London inquiry he was frozen out of key 2002 talks between Mr Blair and George Bush.
The former ambassador said he still felt Iraq had concealed some illegal materials or acts “but it is a question of what that something is.”
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