Washington - David Kay, who recently resigned as the chief US weapons inspector in Iraq, said on Tuesday it was "absolutely prudent" for the United States to go to war there.
"In fact," he told NBC television, "I think at the end of the inspection process, we'll paint a picture of Iraq that was far more dangerous than even we thought it was before the war.
"It was of a system collapsing. It was a country that had the capability in weapons of mass destruction areas, and ... terrorists, like ants to honey, were going after it."
Kay pointed out that prior to the war, the French, the British, the Germans and the United Nations "all thought Saddam (Hussein) had weapons of mass destruction. Not discovering them tells us we've got a more fundamental problem."
He said "the tendency to say, well, it must have been pressure from the White House, is absolutely wrong."
Saddam "was putting more money into his nuclear program, he was pushing ahead his long-range missile program as hard as he could."
"We have collected dozens of examples of where he lied to the UN, violated Resolution 1441 and was in material breach," Kay added.
He noted that Saddam "had the intent to acquire these weapons. He invested huge amounts of money in them. The fact is, he wasn't successful."
In addition, he said it was "quite common" for Iraqi scientists to be "reporting back successes that they were not having." There was "a tremendous amount of corruption there and lying that went on there" in Iraq.
He said the scientists described to him an Iraq, from 1998 on, "that was descending into the utter inability to do anything organized. Corruption was there. They couldn't get the equipment. Money was wasted."
But Saddam's intent to acquire weapons of mass destruction "was absolutely there," Kay told NBC.
The White House insisted on Monday that the US-led war in Iraq was "the right decision," despite growing doubts about US charges that the Iraqi leader possessed weapons of mass destruction.
"Saddam Hussein was a dangerous and gathering threat, and the president made the right decision to remove him from power," White House spokesperson Scott McClellan told reporters on Monday.
McClellan strove to limit the fallout from remarks by Kay, who just resigned as chief of the US-led effort to find the weapons at the centre of President George W Bush's case for launching the March 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Kay said on Sunday that he did not think Saddam possessed such arms at the time the war began. US Secretary of State Colin Powell said a day earlier that it was an "open question" whether that was the case but insisted that the ousted Iraqi leader planned to develop them.