A common refrain from Iraq inquiry witnesses has been that everyone believed that Saddam Hussein possessed WMD — even the French. But this is partly contradicted by Hans Blix, who suggests in his book Disarming Iraq that Jacques Chirac never believed a word of it.
Blix admits that several intelligence agencies — including the French DGES – were convinced Saddam had a weapons stash. But Chirac was totally unconvinced. In one private meeting in January 2007, the French president told him there was no “serious evidence” of proscribed weapons.
“Having met people from French intelligence, and listened to them, I registered with keen interest, that Chirac did not share their conclusions on Iraq. The intelligence services sometimes “intoxicate each other,” he said. Personally, he did not believe that Iraq had any weapons of mass destruction.”
Compare that to a classic passage of Mandarinese from Sir Willian Ehrman, who was a senior security official at Foreign Office. Here he’s talking about the Russians:
The first thing to say is that nobody really challenged the picture that we presented right the way up to March 2003. The Russians said, “Well, show us the proof”, but they didn’t actually say, “We fundamentally disbelieve you”.