Below is a history of the Invasion of Iraq, The Chilcot Inquiry and the role that Tony Blair, George W Bush and others have played in it.
To scroll directly to a specific year, please click the year below:
29 January 2002
US President George Bush identifies Iraq – along with Iran and North Korea – as an “axis of evil” in his State of the Union address
5-7 April 2002
Tony Blair visits George Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas. The two hold secret talks without the presence of UK’s Ambassador to Washington, Sir Christopher Meyer.
We now know from the leaked memo of Colin Powell that during that weekend Tony Blair gives his word to Bush that the UK would support the US in the invasion of Iraq and that removal of Saddam would represent a regional success. Blair also assures Bush he would convince Parliament that war was the only option.
14 May 2002
UN Security Council revamps the 11-year-old sanctions against Iraq to introduce “smart sanctions” targeted at military equipment
5 July 2002
Talks in Vienna between the UN and Iraq break down without agreement
1 August 2002
Iraq invites Hans Blix, UN chief weapons inspector, to Baghdad as a possible step towards resumption of arms inspections
9 September 2002
Senior Adviser in Biological Defence, Dr David Kelly, is shown the dossier. He is asked to add his name to give it weight.
12 September 2002
President Bush tells world leaders at a UN General Assembly session to confront the “grave and gathering danger” of Iraq – or become “irrelevant”
16 September 2002
Iraq accepts 'unconditional’ return of UN inspectors
24 September 2002
Britain publishes dossier outlining the threat posed by Iraq. It includes the “45 minute claim” – that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that could be used against the UK within 45 minutes of him giving an order.
*We have since found out that the dossier, compiled by Blair’s Press Secretary, Alastair Campbell, was based on entirely unreliable sources combined with the thesis of a US-based Iraqi student)
16 October 2002
Iraq renews offer to UN weapons inspectors, after 'referendum’ gives Saddam another seven-year term as president with 100 per cent of the vote
8 November 2002
The UN Security Council approves Resolution 1441, a US-British resolution requiring Iraq to reinstate weapons inspectors after a four-year absence
13 November 2002
Iraq’s government accepts the UN resolution
18 November 2002
Dr Blix leads weapons inspectors back to Baghdad to relaunch search for weapons of mass destruction (WMD), backed by the UN resolution
27 November 2002
The weapons inspectors start their inspections, visiting two sites. They thank the Iraqis for their co-operation but do not comment on their findings.
2 December 2002
Britain publishes a second dossier, documenting human rights abuses in Iraq
7 December 2002
Iraq hands over a 12,000-page weapons declaration as required by resolution 1441. The document is meant to be a current and complete account of all of its chemical, biological, nuclear and missile programmes
18 December 2002
Ministry of Defence reveals that ships are being chartered to carry troops and heavy armour to the Gulf
19 December 2002
The United States accuses Baghdad of being in “material breach” of the UN resolution after Dr Blix said the Iraqi arms declaration contains little new information about its weapons of mass destruction capability
9 January 2003
Dr Blix tells the Security Council that there are still “many unanswered questions” about Iraq’s weapons programmes but that inspectors had not “found any smoking guns” that might trigger war
11 January 2003
A British naval task force leaves for the Gulf headed by the HMS Ark Royal aircraft carrier
16 January 2003
UN weapons inspectors find 12 warheads designed to carry chemical weapons. The inspectors believe the warheads were not accounted for in Iraq’s 12,000 page submission. Washington described the warheads as a “smouldering, not smoking gun”
27 January 2003
UN inspectors present evidence to the Security Council about their search for WMD and Iraqi co-operation with resolution 1441. The report is seized on by the US and UK as proof that Iraq is not disarming, while other states and Dr Blix argue that the inspectors need to be given more time
29 January 2003
In his State of the Union address, President Bush announces that he is ready to attack Iraq, even without a UN mandate
(Documents later released to the Chilcot Inquiry show that the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, cautioned Mr Blair: "My view remains that a further [UN] decision is required". Mr Blair wrote in the margin of the note: "I just don't understand this.")
31 January 2003
Mr Blair tells Mr Bush at a meeting in Washington that he is "solidly with the President", according to Downing Street documents that were later leaked.
14 February 2003
Dr Blix reports to the UN again. He says Iraq must do more to prove it has no WMD
Dr. David Kelly tells a British diplomat there had been “a lot of pressure on him” to make the dossier robust on WMD readiness. Kelly tells the diplomat if Iraq is invaded , “I will probably be found dead in the woods.”
15 February 2003
Over a million people show up to the largest anti-war demonstration ever held in the UK and is repeated in other cities around the world
24 February 2003
The US, Great Britain and Spain submit a proposed resolution to UN Security Council stating Iraq has failed to take the final opportunity afforded to it in Resolution 1441
26 February 2003
Mr Blair suffers parliamentary rebellion over handling of the crisis when 121 Labour MPs vote against him
4 March 2003
Gordon Brown, the chancellor, makes clear his support for war by saying he is prepared to 'spend what it takes’ to disarm Iraq
5 March 2003
Foreign ministers of France, Russia and Germany release joint declaration stating that they will 'not allow’ a resolution authorizing military action to pass the UN security council
7 March 2003
Dr Blix reports that Iraq has accelerated its co-operation but says inspectors need more time to verify Iraq’s compliance
10 March 2003
France and Russia announce that they are ready to veto a new UN resolution that gives Iraq seven days to disarm. French President Jacques Chirac says his country would vote against any resolution that contained an ultimatum leading to war until the weapons inspectors in Iraq said they could do no more
16 March 2003
President Bush, Tony Blair and the Spanish Premier Jose Maria Aznar meet in the Azores. They set a deadline of the end of Monday 17 March for the Security Council to back the US/UK resolution demanding immediate Iraqi disarmament. George Bush called it a “moment of truth for the world”
17 March 2003
UK’s ambassador to the UN says the diplomatic process on Iraq has ended and announces the withdrawal of a draft resolution co-sponsored by the US and Spain; The arms inspectors evacuate Iraq.
After his initial assessment that any invasion of Iraq would be illegal Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney General, now confirms, in a written parliamentary statement that war against Iraq would be legal on the grounds of existing UN resolutions.
18 March 2003
Following Tony Blair’s address to Parliament about the threat posed by leaving Saddam Hussein in power, there follows two votes giving Blair the mandate to join the US in the invasion of Iraq.
Robin Cook, leader of the House of Commons, resigns from cabinet, firmly against the invasion.
President Bush gives Saddam and his sons 48 hours to leave Iraq or face war
20 March 2003
Invasion of Iraq begins.
9 April 2003
Baghdad falls to US forces
2 May 2003
President Bush declares victory in Iraq in speech on board the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.
6 May 2003
Paul Bremer, a diplomat and former head of counter terrorism at the US State Department, is appointed as top civilian administrator in Iraq. He is also given authority over Jay Garner, the retired general who had been in charge of reconstruction efforts
22 May 2003
UN Security Council backs US-led administration in Iraq and lifts economic sanctions.
Dr. David Kelly meets journalist Andrew Gilligan and tells him the dossier was “transformed a week before publication to make it sexier – the classic was the 45mins claim” which was added afterwards.
23 May 2003
Bremer abolishes ministries and institutions that formed the backbone of Saddam’s power structure
29 May 2003
Andrew Gilligan broadcasts the “sexed up” dossier report on BBC Radio 4. An hour later Downing Street issues a rebuttal.
25 June 2003
Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s Press Secretary and spin doctor, tells Foreign Affairs Select Committee the Gilligan story “is a lie” and he demands an apology.
5 July 2003
Kelly goes for a walk with his daughter, Rachel. She asks him if the row with Alastair Campbell and the BBC is affecting his work. “He seemed to have the world’s pressure on his shoulders,” she said later.
9 July 2003
BBC admits Gilligan met Kelly on May 22. That evening, Kelly’s name is confirmed to the press by the MoD as the source of the “leak”. Kelly feels betrayed by the MoD.
11 July 2003
Kelly is told he will be expected to give televised evidence before the Foreign Affairs Committee. Mrs. Kelly later says, “I have never known him to be as unhappy as he was then.”
13 July 2003
Iraq’s interim governing council, composed of 25 Iraqis appointed by US and British officials, meets for the first time.
15 July 2003
Kelly appears before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee and is insulted and harangued by Alastair Campbell and some of the MPs.
16 July 2003
Kelly gives evidence before the Intelligence and Security Committee. Again he is intimidated by the form of hostile questioning.
17 July 2003
Tony Blair flies to the US to receive the Congressional Medal of Honour.
Kelly emails a reporter and refers to “Many dark actors playing games”.
3pm. Kelly receives a phone call from the MoD.
Kelly goes out for a walk near his home and is later reported missing.
18 July 2003
Dr David Kelly is found dead
13 December 2003
Saddam Hussein captured hiding in an underground tunnel
28 January 2004
Hutton Report into Dr Kelly’s death published, clearing ministers of wrongdoing and claiming reports about the September 2002 dossier were “unfounded”
Doubts: Dr Michael Powers QC says key questions were not asked about Dr Kelly as to the veracity of the second postmortem report, There was too little blood at the scene and the knife had no fingerprints on it. Neither did a bottle of water, a mobile phone, glasses nor three empty blister packs of pills found with him.
14 July 2004
Butler Report on Iraq intelligence published, saying MI6 did not check its sources well enough and relied on third hand reports to compile the 2002 dossier. It also said the dossier should not have included the 45 minute claim without explaining what it meant.
28 September 2004
Speaking at the Labour conference, Mr Blair admits intelligence was wrong but claims the war was justified by the removal of Saddam Hussein, saying: "I can apologise for the information being wrong but I can never apologise, sincerely at least, for removing Saddam."
Glenda Jackson MP announces she will stand for leadership against Tony Blair to force a leadership election if he tries to cling to power.
1 May 2005
Secret Downing Street documents appear to show Mr Blair had examined ways of justifying an invasion of Iraq with his senior staff back in July 2002, but he insisted he would have held back if Saddam had met the UN's requirements.
Reg Keys, father of a British serviceman killed in Iraq, stands as an anti-war candidate against Tony Blair in Blair’s constituency of Sedgefield.
10 May 2007
As casualties from the war mount, Tony Blair becomes increasingly unpopular and announces he will resign in June
24 June 2007
Tony Blair hands over the leadership of the Labour Party to Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown.
27 June 2007
Blair tenders his resignation. Gordon Brown becomes Prime Minister.
Blair is offered the job of Middle East Peace Envoy.
17 November 2007
Mr Blair insists he was right to go to war, claiming that his only regret is "not having laid out for people in a clearer way what I saw as the profound nature of this struggle".
Prime Minister Gordon Brown invites Sir John Chilcot to set up an Inquiry into the invasion of Iraq and its aftermath.
11 October 2009
At a Memorial Service for soldiers who died in Iraq, heartbroken Peter Brierley, father of Corporal Shaun Brierley killed on active duty in Iraq, refuses to shake Tony Blair’s hand saying: “I’ll not shake your hand. It has blood on it.”
12 December 2009
Mr Blair still would have thought it right to remove Saddam even without WMDs. He says: "I mean obviously you would have had to use and deploy different arguments about the nature of the threat."
25 January 2010
Military families ask Sir John Chilcot if they can meet privately with Tony Blair after he appears before the Inquiry Panel.
29 January 2010
Tony Blair gives evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry, insisting he had absolutely no regrets in removing the “monster” Saddam Hussein.
Blair is questioned for six hours and he insists there was no conspiracy, deceit or deception in his decision to go to war.
He further confirmed there had been no secret deal with George W Bush to back the US military action. He reiterated that he was convinced Saddam Hussein possessed WMDs
5 March 2010
Prime Minister Gordon Brown denies starving UK armed forces of equipment to the Chilcot Inquiry. Brown said he fully backed the war.
8 March 2010
Former Foreign Secretary David Miliband tells the Chilcot Inquiry that the United Nations had been feeble in their efforts against Saddam Hussein. He added that most Iraqis felt they had been liberated from tyranny by overthrowing Saddam Hussein.
29 June 2010
Chilcot Inquiry hears that former French President, Jacques Chirac, believed the Iraq invasion was a very dangerous venture.
30 June 2010
The Chilcot Inquiry publishes documents relating to the legality of the war after they are declassified by the government. Details of former Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith’s, legal advice to Tony Blair on 12 February 2003 are published on the Inquiry’s website.
6 July 2010
The government let down the families of British troops killed in Iraq, ex Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth tells the Chilcot Inquiry. He admits the Ministry of Defence did not get it right in terms of support for the families.
8 July 2010
The Chilcot Inquiry says it has taken evidence from 35 people.
12 July 2010
Sanctions should have been given more time to work and would have avoided military action, a former diplomat, Carne Ross, who resigned over the war, tells the Chilcot Inquiry.
16 July 2010
Former Minister, Adam Ingram, admits to the Chilcot Inquiry that it was “very wearing” for Ministers to have to meet bereaved relatives who blamed them for the deaths of their loved ones.
20 July 2010
Former Head of MI5, Baroness Manningham-Buller, tells the Chilcot Inquiry that, contrary to what Tony Blair claims, the invasion of Iraq has substantially increased the terrorist threat to the UK.
27 July 2010
Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, clarifies the government’s position on the Iraq War after telling MPs that the war had been illegal. Mr Clegg said former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw would have to account for his role in the disastrous decision to invade Iraq.
28 July 2010
Army Chief, Gen. Sir Richard Dannatt tells the Chilcot Inquiry that troop commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan created “the perfect storm” for an overstretched Army.
18 November 2010
Sir John Chilcot gives details about the panel’s visit to Iraq.
8 December 2010
Tony Blair recalled to give evidence a second time to the Chilcot Inqiry.
17 January 2011
Former Attorney General Lord Goldsmith admits to the Chilcot Inquiry that he was ‘”uncomfortable” with statements made by Tony Blair about the legal basis for the war in early 2003.
18 January 2011
Sir John Chilcot admits he is disappointed the government has chosen to publish the details of correspondence and conversations between Tony Blair and George Bush about Iraq.
Sir Gus O'Donnell rejects repeated requests from the Chilcot Inquiry to publish notes sent by Mr Blair to Mr Bush in the build up to the war, which the inquiry describes as essential evidence in setting out the agreements that led to war.
20 January 2011
Head of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove’s, evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry is published stating that it was nonsense that the relationship between him and Tony Blair was too close.
21 January 2011
Tony Blair is recalled to give evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry for a second time. He expresses profound regret about the loss of life suffered by UK personnel and Iraqi citizens during and after the 2003 war. He addresses questions about the war’s legality, admitting former Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, could have been more closely involved with decision making.
25 January 2011
Tony Blair was warned by the UK’s top civil servant in 2002 that he was getting into a “dangerous position” on Iraq. Former Cabinet Secretary Lord Wilson tells the Chilcot Inquiry he alerted Mr Blair to the legal issues involved.
28 January 2011
Tony Blair was reluctant to hold Cabinet discussions about Iraq because he was concerned they would be leaked. The UK’s top civil servant tells the Chilcot Iraq Inquiry that Blair believed the Cabinet was not a safe place to debate the issues involved in going to war in Iraq.
2 February 2011
In the last Chilcot Inquiry hearing to be held in public, former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw insists regime change was “never the goal” of UK policy towards Saddam Hussein.
12 May 2011
The Chilcot Inquiry publishes new witness statements as a former intelligence official disputes evidence given by Alastair Campbell that the September 2002 dossier on Iraq’s weapons threat was “not designed to make the case for war.”
16 November 2011
The Chilcot Inquiry panel announces it will not publish its report until the summer of 2012. Sir John Chilcot said it needed the extra time to do justice to the issues involved.
23 November 2011
Malaysian Tribunal sitting at the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission finds George W Bush and Tony Blair guilty of war crimes in absentia.
16 July 2012
The Chilcot Inquiry panel announces a further delay to the publication of the Report.
17 September 2012
Desmond Tutu announces that he will not meet with ”war criminals” and that Tony Blair should be put on trial for war crimes.
6 November 2012
The Chilcot Inquiry panel says it cannot proceed with the next phase of its work because key information, including correspondence between Tony Blair and George W Bush has yet to be released.
14 November 2012
The US has no veto over the disclosure of communications between Tony Blair and George W Bush regarding the war in Iraq, the UK Cabinet Office says.
17 July 2013
Doctors campaigning for a full inquest for weapons expert, David Kelly, claim there has been an egregious cover-up and demand a fresh investigation.
27 May 2014
Tony Blair says he wants the Chilcot Inquiry Report to be published as soon as possible. He claims he is “not blocking any documents and the publication would allow him to “restate the case” for the 2003 invasion.
9 September 2014
The UK’s top civil servant, Sir Jeremy Heywood, tells MPs that the Chilcot Report would be “more transparent” than people were expecting and would contain material that “would not normally be disclosed for a million years”.
6 January 2015
House of Lords Inquiry is told that Tony Blair could face war crimes charges as a result of the Iraq War.
28 January 2015
Sir John Chilcot agrees to appear before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee to explain the delays of his Report.
4 February 2015
Appearing before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Sir John Chilcot says he will not give any timetable for the publication of his Report.
28 May 2015
Tony Blair resigns as Middle East Peace Envoy
17 June 2015
In response to Prime Minister David Cameron’s “disappointment” at the length of time the Report has taken, Sir John Chilcot announces the process of giving witnesses who might be criticized in his report the right of reply. This “Maxwellisation” process, he says, has yet to be completed as some individuals had not yet responded.
17 October 2015
Daily Mail publishes the leaked memo of Colin Powell confirming that Blair agreed with Bush to go to war against Iraq back in April 2002.
24 October 2015
Tony Blair appears on CNN and apologizes for the taking Britain to war and admits some guilt over Iraq but absolves himself from blame insisting the fault lay with the Intelligence Service.
29 October 2015
In a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, Sir John Chilcot says he expects to complete the report by April 2016. He says that, allowing for security checks by the government, the report would be published in June or July 2016.
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