Lula: We knew that Blair knew there were no Iraqi WMDs

 Former Brazilian President Lula da Silva revealed in an exclusive interview with Brasil Wire and the Michael Brooks Show that Brazil already knew that then UK Prime Minister Tony Blair was lying about Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction in the build up to the Iraq war.

Lula says that they knew that Blair knew Saddam Hussein did not possess such weapons, through Brazilian diplomat and director general of the OPCW, José Bustani, as the UK Prime Minister used the phantom weapons to make a worldwide case for an invasion of the middle eastern country. The invasion is now regarded as a catastrophic decision, which cost a million lives and is blamed for triggering a spiral of violence and suffering which continues to this day. Iraq this month demanded the exit of all US forces from the country.

“I had a good and respectful relationship with Tony Blair. And I had a good relationship with Gordon Brown. Those were the two (UK) governments with which I had contact. Unfortunately the role of Tony Blair in deciding to enter the war in Iraq was regrettable. He knows it was regrettable. He suffers aggression today on the streets of London because of the war in Iraq.” remarked Lula, as he recalled his relations with the British Government during his 2003-2011 presidential terms

“And he knew there were no chemical weapons in Iraq.” Lula stated.

“Do you know why we also knew about this? It was Ambassador Bustani. He was the the secretary who dealt with chemical weapons. And he exausted himself saying, “they don’t have them”.  Because he said they didn’t have them, the Americans demanded that (Lula’s predecessor) Fernando Henrique Cardoso remove Bustani, and he was removed.” Lula explained.

Bustani was then director general of OPCW – the organisation for the prohibition of chemical weapons – an international body which is now again mired in controversy, following the release of leaked documents which cast doubt upon the reported chemical weapon attack in Douma, Syria in April 2018. The attack was used as justification for airstrikes on the country by the UK, France and the United States.

In March 2002, George W. Bush administration hawk John Bolton, then under secretary of state for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, travelled to Europe and arrived at the OPCW headquarters in the Hague to warn its recently re-elected director general. Bustani recounted to Mehdi Hasan for the Intercept:

“Cheney wants you out,” Bolton said, “You have 24 hours to leave the organization, and if you don’t comply with this decision by Washington, we have ways to retaliate against you.”

Bolton concluded his ultimatum with a brazen threat: “We know where your kids live. You have two sons in New York.” 

Following his dismissal from, José Bustani would later be nominated for a Nobel Peace prize for his achievements at the OPCW.

Lula lamented that they replaced Bustani with someone who towed the US/UK line on Iraq’s possession of WMDs: “And they appointed someone from Japan who said they had them. How long has it been since they invaded Iraq? Where are the chemical weapons?”

 While he was nearing his second term as President in 2009, Lula had told the FT: “On 10th December 2002, before the inauguration, I went to the White House to talk with President Bush. Bush was talking about the Iraq war, the future Iraq war, in a very obsessive way, and saying it was fighting terrorism…he spoke very frankly. After 40 minutes of this I told President Bush, President Bush, Iraq is 14,000 kilometres away from my country. I have nothing against Iraq, but I have another war to wage in Brazil. That is the war to end hunger in my country. This is my priority.”

Part two of the interview will be released later this week.

Part one can be read here.