LONDON Britain's former prime minister Tony Blair said on Wednesday he could not delay the invasion of Iraq in 2003, responding to a critical report on the war which found that taking military action was not the last resort that had been presented to parliament and the public.
The report, published earlier on Wednesday, said the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq came while diplomatic options were still open, but Blair said that because the United States had decided on action, he could not afford to wait any longer.
"The inquiry claims that military action was not a last resort, but it also says that it might have been necessary later. With respect, I didn't have the option of that delay," Blair told reporters.
"I took this decision because I believed it was the right thing to do based upon the information I had and the threats I perceived."
(Reporting by Alistair Smout, Will James and Kate Holton; editing by Stephen Addison)
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