Former British prime minister Tony Blair has said he has no regrets about the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.
He told an inquiry into the conflict that Saddam Hussein was a threat to the world who had to be disarmed or removed.
Blair also said the September 11 al Qaeda attacks on the United States meant rogue states had to be dealt with to prevent weapons of mass destruction falling into the wrong hands.
“I have little doubt, myself, but it’s a judgement and other people may take a different judgement, that today we would be facing a situation where Iraq was competing with Iran, competing both on nuclear weapons capabilities and competing, more important perhaps than anything else, competing as well as the nuclear issue, in respect of support of terrorist groups,” he said.
During six hours of intense questioning Blair was unrepentant over the stand he took with the then US President George W Bush – dismissing queries about the legality of the war or whether he had misled the public over the reasons for it.
Relatives of some of the 179 British soldiers killed in Iraq joined anti-war protesters outside the inquiry venue opposite the parliament buildings.
The decision to go to war still provokes deep public anger almost three years after Blair handed the reins of power to Gordon Brown who is due to appear before the inquiry next month.