'David and I laughed about 45-minute claim'
By Jo Dillon, Deputy Political Editor
20 July 2003
The raw material behind the 45-minute claim in the Government's Iraq dossier applied not to the time it would take for weapons of mass destruction to be deployed but to how long the Iraqis would need to communicate with each other about them.
Writing in The Mail on Sunday, Tom Mangold - a veteran BBC Panorama reporter and friend of the late David Kelly - disclosed that intelligence sources had told him the original information had come from an MI6 agent in Baghdad.
The source was a senior Iraqi officer who had stayed in place after the war started and was re-located by the British afterwards, Mr Mangold said. He said he believed the officer was a Brigadier, a rank sufficiently high for his information to be taken seriously.
"In essence what he said was not that biological and chemical weapons could be deployed, i.e. fired within 45 minutes. That's nonsense - and Dave Kelly and I laughed about it," Mr Mangold said. "What the agent said was that the Iraqis had created a Command, Control and Communications system (C3) that would enable Saddam ... to communicate with regional military commanders within 45 minutes, authorising the use of WMD. And this is not the same things as deployment."
He said that he did not believe the dossier had been "sexed up" but was a "snapshot of Saddam's WMD programme earlier in the year".