Former Prime Minister Tony Blair's recent admission that he would have invaded Iraq even if he knew from the start that it did not have weapons of mass destruction has sparked public outrage and calls for his prosecution for war crimes in the ongoing war inquiry, the AFP reported.
Blair's administration originally used WMDs to justify going to war, leaving the public feeling that the former minister had entered Iraq under false pretenses, using the language that was most convenient at the time.
Blair maintains that Saddam Hussein's presence in the region would have been enough of a threat to justify the war.
"I would still have thought it right to remove him. I mean, obviously you would have had to use and deploy different arguments about the nature of the threat," Blair told the BBC.
"It was the notion of him as a threat to the region, of which the development of WMD was obviously one, and because you'd had 12 years of United Nations to and fro on this subject, he used chemical weapons on his own people -- so this was obviously the thing that was uppermost in my mind," Blair continued.
Blair's admission has gotten a reaction from all corners-- even Defense Secretary Bob Ainsworth told the BBC he was "a little bit" surprised by Blair's comments.
"I supported the war in Iraq based on the arguments that were put at the time and a big part of those arguments was - and I firmly believed that they existed - was the existence of WMD at that time," Ainsworth said.
Journalist Andrew Gilligan commented in the Sunday Telegraph that Blair's "game-changing admission" will give the war panel "license to be tougher and more prosecutorial."
Blair will provide evidence at the Iraq war hearings early next year.