London (CNN)A long-awaited official inquiry delivered a devastating indictment of Britain’s decision to invade Iraq Wednesday, finding that the war was based on flawed intelligence and had been launched before diplomatic options were exhausted.
The findings of the 2.6 million-word Iraq Inquiry — seven years in the making — were released following a statement by probe chairman John Chilcot in London Wednesday.
Chilcot: Plan for Iraq after Hussein wholly inadequate
Chilcot: Plan for Iraq after Hussein wholly inadequate 01:05
The former civil servant said that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein posed “no imminent threat” when the U.S-led invasion was launched in March 2003, and that while military action against him “might have been necessary at some point,” the “strategy of containment” could have continued for some time.
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Chilcot said former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was warned of the risks of regional instability and the rise of terrorism before the invasion of Iraq, but pressed on regardless.
The UK failed to appreciate the complexity of governing Iraq, and did not devote enough forces to the task of securing the country in the wake of the invasion, he added.
“The people of Iraq have suffered greatly,” he said.
Was it legal?
Blair’s decision to invade Iraq was influenced by his interest in protecting the UK’s relationship with the United States, the report said.
While the legal basis for the war was “far from satisfactory,” the inquiry did not express a view on whether the invasion was legal, Chilcot said, arguing that that was a decision for another forum.