LONDON - Former prime minister Tony Blair believes it was right to oust Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein from power even though no weapons of mass destruction were ever found.

I would still have thought it right to remove him, Blair told an interviewer for the BBC, when asked if he would have joined in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 if he'd known Saddam had no such weapons.

Obviously you would have had to use and deploy different arguments, about the nature of the threat, he added in the interview for the Fern Britton Meets... show, a transcript of which was made available ahead of its broadcast on Sunday.

Blair is due to give evidence next year to an inquiry set up to investigate the run-up to the war and its aftermath.

He said in the interview that the threat Saddam posed to the region was uppermost in his mind and the possibility that Iraq had powerful weapons was only one factor behind his decision.

Others were Saddam's 12 years of stalling United Nations weapons inspectors and his use of chemical weapons on his own people.

Blair said he understood some people opposed his decision, and parents of some of the British service personnel killed there were angry.

I sympathise with the people who were against it for perfectly good reasons and are against it now, but for me, you know, in the end I had to take the decision, he said.

There is no point in going into a situation of conflict and not understanding there is going to be a price paid.

He said many of those in the armed forces, including those who have lost loved ones in Afghanistan or Iraq, were often proud of what their child had done and proud of the cause they fought in.
Blair, who converted to Roman Catholicism after his resignation in 2007, denied faith had played a part in his decision to send troops to conflict zones, but it had given him strength.

I think it is important that you take that decision, as it were, on the basis of what you think is right, because that is the only way to do it.

I think people sometimes think my religious faith played a direct part in some of these decisions. It really didn't.

(Reporting by Avril Ormsby; Editing by Michael Roddy)