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Iraq did have WMD, said Kelly

David Kelly
The interview with Kelly was recorded in October 2002.

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start quoteEven if they are not actually filled and deployed today the capability exists to get them filled and deployed within a matter of days or weeks.end quote
-- David Kelly
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- The late UK government scientist David Kelly believed Iraq did have banned weapons and posed an immediate threat, according to a previously unbroadcast interview.

The weapons expert slashed his wrists near his home in Oxfordshire, southern England, in July 2003 after being exposed as the source of a claim by a BBC reporter that the prime minister's team inflated the threat posed by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, to justify war.

One week before senior judge Lord Hutton delivers his report on Kelly's death -- a judgment that could be critical of ministers -- the BBC said it would broadcast later Wednesday an interview it recorded with Kelly in October 2002, which it has never shown.

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said in September 2002 that Iraq's weapons could be deployed within 45 minutes.

In one excerpt of the interview seen by CNN, Kelly was asked if "they" posed an "immediate threat." It was not entirely clear if the reporter was referring to Saddam's weapons of mass destruction.

Kelly replied: "Yes they are. Even if they are not actually filled and deployed today the capability exists to get them filled and deployed within a matter of days or weeks. So yes, they are a real threat."

The BBC's Web site also reported that Kelly said Saddam's biological weapons program posed a "real threat" to neighboring countries.

"We're talking about Iran and Israel, and certainly he can use those weapons against them and you don't need a vast stockpile to have a tremendous military effect," it quoted him as saying.

Nine months after Saddam was toppled, the U.S.-led coalition has discovered no weapons of mass destruction.

On Wednesday, Blair deflected a call for an independent inquiry into his country's role in the Iraq war, saying there was "absolutely no doubt" about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. (Full story)

In the interview Kelly said he did not know about delivery mechanisms for those weapons.

"(Saddam) would have been planning to develop them and have far better and far more effective systems, and those we are completely unsighted of, and we're unsighted as to whether that work has continued since 1991 to this very day," the BBC quoted him as saying.

Hutton's long inquiry last summer found no evidence that the government knew or suspected its 45-minute claim to be wrong. But it did establish that the government helped make Kelly's name public.

The fate of senior ministers -- particularly Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon -- government officials, BBC chiefs and perhaps even Blair could rest on Hutton's verdict.

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