Bush to Blair: First Iraq, Then Saudi
By Marie Woolf
The Independent UK
Sunday 16 October 2005
George Bush told the Prime Minister two months before the invasion of Iraq that Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran and North Korea may also be dealt with over weapons of mass destruction, a top secret Downing Street memo shows.
The US President told Tony Blair, in a secret telephone conversation in January 2003 that he "wanted to go beyond Iraq".
He implied that the military action against Saddam Hussein was only a first step in the battle against WMD proliferation in a series of countries.
Mr Bush said he "wanted to go beyond Iraq in dealing with WMD proliferation", says the letter on Downing Street paper, marked secret and personal.
No 10 said yesterday it would "not comment on leaked documents". But the revelation that Mr Bush was considering tackling other countries over WMD before the Iraq war has shocked MPs. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have been close allies of the US in the war against terror and have not been considered targets in relation to WMD.
The confidential memo recording the President's explosive remarks was written by Michael Rycroft, then the Prime Minister's private secretary and foreign policy adviser. He sent the two-page letter recording the conversation between the two leaders on 30 January 2003 to Simon McDonald, who was then private secretary to Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary.
Mr Rycroft said it "must only be shown to those with a real need to know ".
The revelation that Mr Bush told the Prime Minister Iraq should be seen as a first step comes in the American edition of Lawless World, a book by the leading international lawyer Philippe Sands QC, who is also a professor of law at University College London and senior barrister at Matrix chambers, which he shares with Cherie Blair.
"The conversation seems to indicate that Iraq was not seen as an isolated issue but as a first step in relation to a broader project," he said. "What is interesting is the mention of Saudi Arabia, which to the best of my knowledge had not at that time been identified particularly as a country with WMD. An alternative view is that the mention of Saudi Arabia indicates that the true objectives were%2