Aziz Pahad led SA team to Iraq before US invasion that found no evidence of WMD

With the release of the Chilcot report in the UK yesterday, implicating former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, in a hasty decision to invade Iraq in 2003.

Thabo Mbeki's government at the time was strongly opposed to the invasion by US and UK into Iraq. One of the steps taken was a to send a group of South African experts to Iraq to look for evidence that Suddam Hessein was producing of weapons of mass destruction.

The team was lead by then Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs , Aziz Pahad. Stephen Grootes talks to Pahad about those events.

At the time when there were all these accusations without substantiation of weapons of mass destruction, we were very keen to try and find the facts, and try to prevent another war breaking out.

Aziz Pahad, former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs

I'd met Saddam before, and eventually he agreed that our team could meet with his team, and were given access to all the old sites.

Aziz Pahad, former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs

After collecting information and materials from all the sites, the team returned and presented a report to President Mbeki. Their findings were that there was no evidence of any nuclear weapons programme in place since the earlier attacks.

This was reported to all the relevant governments, but to no avail.

But the decision to go to war had already been made so it made no difference to those governments.

Aziz Pahad, former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs

Pahad does feel vindicated, but says the consequences of the invasions into Iraq have left such destabilisation in the region, that has given rise to extremist terror groups. He says Iraq has almost been destroyed.

There is no point in saying 'we told you so', he says, but rather find a way to make it right. he hopes it will be a lesson learned.

You cannot use military means to solve political problems. It is the same now in Syria and Libya.

Aziz Pahad, former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs

Listen to the full interview below:

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