London: The US administration was "high on military" ahead of the Iraq war and the progress to it was "almost unstoppable" by early 2003, former head of UN weapons inspectors Hans Blix said Tuesday.
Blix spoke of his disquiet at the US national security strategy published in September 2002, which set out the White House`s belief in its right to launch pre-emptive attacks, The Daily Telegraph reported.
He told the British inquiry, headed by Sir John Chilcott, into the war against Saddam Hussein`s regime here that he was convinced a second UN resolution was needed to authorise military action.
He said: "The US in 2002, that time you refer to, threw it (the UN process) overboard. I think they were high on military at the time. They said, `we can do it`."
Blix added that the progress to war with Iraq was "almost unstoppable" by early 2003 and the UK was "a prisoner on that train".
"Once they went up to 250,000 men and March was approaching, I think it was unstoppable or almost unstoppable - the (US) president could have stopped it, but almost unstoppable," he told the inquiry.
"After March the heat would go up in Iraq and it would be difficult to carry out warfare."
He added: "The whole military timetable was, as rightly said, not in sync with the diplomatic timetable. The diplomatic timetable would have allowed more inspections. (The) UK wanted more inspections. The military timetable did not permit that."
Blix said he thought UN Security Council resolution 1441, passed four months before the March 2003 invasion, had given Saddam Hussein the "chance for a new start".
He admitted he had privately believed Saddam had kept weapons of mass destruction.
"If they had weapons, which I thought might well be the case, they had an opportunity. Now here it is, they could put the blame on some general or other."
Resolution 1441 said the weapons inspectors should give an update to the UN Security Council within 60 days.
Blix questioned how this worked in practice, particularly in the light of the coalition`s initial plans to invade Iraq from the north through Turkey.
He said: "I am a little puzzled, I must say, at how they calculated because the impression was that the invasion would take place through Turkey and that it would occur even in the beginning of January. That would have given (a) very very short time to the inspection."
"As it turned out we only had three-and-a-half months, but had they gone into Turkey it would have been even shorter."
He said he told then British prime minister Tony Blair in autumn 2002 of his belief that Saddam had maintained his WMD programmes.
"I, like most people at the time, felt that Iraq retains weapons of mass destruction," he said. "I did not say so publicly."