London, May 1 (Bloomberg) — The U.S. and U.K. went to war against Iraq because of the Middle East country’s oil reserves, an adviser to British Prime Minister Tony Blair said.
Sir Jonathan Porritt, head of the Sustainable Development Commission, which advises Blair’s government on ecological issues, said the prospect of winning access to Iraqi oil was “a very large factor” in the allies’ decision to attack Iraq in March.
“I don’t think the war would have happened if Iraq didn’t have the second-largest oil reserves in the world,” Porritt said in a Sky News television interview.
Opponents of the war, including some members of Blair’s Labour Party, have said that the conflict was aimed at securing Iraqi reserves to benefit Western economies and oil companies. U.S. and U.K. leaders have repeatedly rejected that, saying the war began because Iraq held illegal weapons and threatened other countries.
Blair has said he wants Iraqi oil revenues to be held in a United Nations-run trust fund and spent on rebuilding Iraq. Secretary of State Colin Powell said yesterday the U.S. may encourage Iraq to set up an oil revenue-sharing system that would distribute some proceeds from what he called the “marvelous treasure” to Iraqi citizens.
Oil production in Iraq was halted before the U.S.-led attack that toppled President Saddam Hussein. According to UN data, the nation is losing about $55 million a day in oil revenue as the U.S., the European Union and the Iraqi people debate postwar reconstruction plans.
Porritt’s commission was set up in 2000 to advise the U.K. government on making economic and business activity compatible with environmental-protection policies. The body reports directly to Blair.
This isn’t the first time Porritt has criticized the U.K. government. In October 2000, he said Blair and his ministers had failed to fulfill election promises on ecological issues.