London: Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was told that Iraq had only a trivial amount of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and that Libya was in this respect a far greater threat.
Hitherto unseen evidence given to the Chilcot Inquiry by British intelligence has revealed that just the day before Blair went to visit President George Bush in April 2002, he appeared to accept this.
According to the Independent, Blair however returned a `changed man` and subsequently ordered the production of dossiers to `find the intelligence` that he wanted to use to justify going to war.
Intelligence officers have disclosed that this and other secret evidence to the inquiry will be used as the basis for severe criticism of the former prime minister when the Chilcot report is published.
According to the report, Blair is said to have `realised` and `understood` that Libya was the real threat and that he knew `it would not be sensible to lead the argument on Saddam and the WMD issue`.
This was disclosed in a closed evidence session with one of MI6`s most senior officers, named as SIS4.
During a closed session with former MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove, redacted evidence claims Blair `had understood that Libya posed a bigger threat than Iraq, and understood the risk, therefore, of focusing on WMD in relation to Iraq`, the report said.
Sir Richard said it was clear that in 2002, British intelligence `discovered that Libya has an active nuclear weapons programme`.
By contrast, Iraq had no nuclear weapons and any actual WMD would be `very, very small` and would fit on to the `back of a petrol lorry`, according to one senior MI6 officer.