February 11, 2004

'No memory' of 45-minute claim:

"US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld did not recall British Prime Minister Tony Blair's pre-war claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction ready to be deployed in 45 minutes, he said yesterday.

'I don't remember the statement being made, to be perfectly honest,' Rumsfeld told a Pentagon news conference.

General Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he did not remember the statement either.

The claim made headlines around the world after Blair levelled it in a 55-page 'White Paper' presented to the House of Commons in September 2002.
The dossier said Iraq had military plans to use chemical and biological weapons and 'some of these weapons could be deployed within 45 minutes of an order to use them'.

Rumsfeld was asked whether before the war he believed the British claim.

'I'd have to see the statement. And to have an opinion, I would have to go ask the intelligence community as to what they thought at that time,' he said

'Because what it is they thought very likely would be what it is I thought. And I'd have to go back and I don't know when the statement was made,' he said. "


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