Newly declassified documents from Britain’s National Archives have revealed internal discussions and planning between the American and British Governments on prolonging the 1991 war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.
Among a tranche of files and minutes published on Friday, December 29, is a secret note omitted from official documents recalling discussions between the then British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd and US Secretary of State James Baker on July 17, 1991.
According to the note, both countries were weighing up the possibility of continuing the war against Saddam Hussein after his forces had already been expelled from Kuwait.
The document makes clear the British enthusiasm for joining the Americans in an extension of the conflict, which the US did not want to undertake alone.
Operationally the strikes would be carried out under US command, to which Prime Minister John Major agreed.
The discussions were acknowledged in a secret letter from the Ministry of Defense dated July 12.
The primary concern of the US, according to the letter, was “the political burden-sharing that would be provided by the inclusion of UK (and French) aircraft,” if military action was to continue.
The primary target of the renewed military action, at least officially, was to be Iraqi stocks of presumed nuclear, biological and chemical weapons on the basis that the Iraqis had not yet allowed UN inspectors to determine what stockpiles of biological, chemical and other weapons the country still possessed.