ALEX Salmond wants Tony Blair to face international criminal proceedings over Britain's involvement in the Iraq War - if the Chilcot inquiry finds the former British Prime Minister made a secret commitment to US president George Bush to support the invasion.

The former Scottish First Minister and current SNP foreign affairs spokesman in Westminster has revealed he intends to reassemble a cross-party parliamentary group that launched a campaign to have Blair impeached ten years ago, in order to make plans for action prior to the publication of Sir John Chilcot's 2.6 million-word Iraq war inquiry report in July.

The Herald: Head of the long-awaited Iraq war inquiry, Sir John Chilcot

Salmond played a major role in the impeachment group, formed in the main by Welsh and Scots nationalist MPs before he became First Minister - and at a time when the SNP was a minor party in Westminster with just three MPs. Now the SNP, with 54 MPs, are the UK’s third biggest party.

Salmond - who led SNP MPs in voting against war in Iraq in the House of Commons in 2003 – said he believes the Chilcot Report will reveal that Blair committed Britain to joining the US-led military action in private conversations with Bush, possibly during a 2002 visit to the then president's ranch in Crawford, Texas.

Salmond believes that any prosecution of Blair should be carried out by the International Criminal Court - the tribunal that has jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and 'crimes of aggression'.

The ICC in the Hague has been a part of the global justice system since 2002, and the Rome Statue which established the court has been ratified by over 120 countries, including the UK - but not the US.

It is seen as a court of last resort, intervening only when national authorities cannot or will not prosecute.

Salmond says that ICC rules show that that its prosecuting office can take a body of evidence of crimes from any citizen or group of citizens.

He added that the Chilcot Report would be key to providing the body of evidence that could be taken to the ICC in a request for a formal investigation over alleged crimes of aggression by Blair.

Salmond, who has always believed Blair pre-committed to the Iraq War in discussions with Bush, says he favoured the ICC route but also said he was "open to Mr Blair being held to account in whatever is the best way".

The Herald: ALEX SALMOND: Appeared keen on consensual politics.

"My own view is that if Chilcot finds - as I hope and believe he shall - that Blair pre-committed to war in the Crawford Ranch in 2002, which is what I've always believed the evidence points to, in my view everything that happened after that was a fabrication in order to provide a justification for a decision that had already been made.

"So that's dodgy dossiers, slanted intelligence and a whole panoply of deception that was designed in order to justify that original pre-commitment, which was unknown in my view to certainly most members of the cabinet - perhaps all members of the cabinet, outwith the very narrow charmed circle around Blair.

"If the Chilcott report finds that causal link then that would in my view provide the body of evidence and therefore it would be up to a group of citizens to take this evidence to the office of the prosecutor of the ICC and ask him or her to investigate...My own view is the ICC is a better route.

"And what would be the crime? The crime would be the crime of aggression."

Tony Blair told parliament before the war that intelligence showed Iraq's nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programme was "active", "growing" and "up and running". Saddam's weapons of mass destruction were the basis of the war.

But in 2004, a comprehensive US report said Saddam Hussein destroyed his last weapons of mass destruction more than a decade previously and his capacity to build new ones had been dwindling for years by the time of the Iraq invasion. No WMD was ever found in Iraq.

On the reassembling of the impeachment group, Salmond said: "You may say, why don't we wait till Chilcot reports, well, you know, I think it is far better to prepared.

"Right now, this will be subject to the opinion of the cross party group and the legal advice, we had the best legal advice available.  I am quite certain the key figures will be prepared to provide that again. They were deeply committed to a process.

"The end game is to make sure those that wanted the process are of a mind that this is the way to go, and if there are alternatives then I am prepared to listen. The ICC would appear to be the route."

The Herald:

The reassembling of the impeachment group comes ten years after a chain of events it set off led to Mr Blair's government avoiding a bloody nose on the Iraq war in a House of Commons vote.

Realistically, the motion tabled by the Scottish and Welsh nationalist parties calling for an immediate investigation of the war had little  chance of being won as it would have needed the entire opposition plus 35 Labour rebels to back it.

In the end it was defeated by  298 votes to 273 votes - a majority of just 25.

Salmond said he hoped that meetings of the impeachment group would be organised as soon as the Parliament's new session starts. The State Opening for the 2016-17 session will take place on Wednesday.

"One of the reasons for reassembing the group is that our collective wisdom ten years ago is what gave such impetus to that campaign," said Mr Salmond.

"We are not talking about the latest GDP figures. We are talking about peace and war. We are talking about 179 (dead) British service people, thousands of Americans and hundreds and thousands of Iraqis.

"We are talking about setting off and detonating a sequence of events that has left the Middle East in chaos and much of the world suffering from the consequences. We are talking about a sequence of events, the end game of which is Daesh [Islamic State].

The Herald:

"The horrors this world face today, largely, there is an inescapable line of responsibility that leads back to that fateful day that Blair decided to pre-commit himself to the Bush campaign.

"Now [there are those who] might say we had the Twin Towers before that - yes of course. But the threats facing us now because of these actions are considerably greater than the threats to the world in 2001.

The Herald:

"Because horrific though the events that the Twin Towers were, difficult and intractable although the Afghanistan conflict is, they are dwarfed by the repercussions in the Middle East of the sequence of events that followed the illegal invasion of Iraq."

The ICC has already begun a preliminary inquiry into allegations that British troops were responsible for a series of war crimes after the invasion of Iraq.

The court is two years into an examination of 1268 separate allegations of ill-treatment including 250 unlawful killings between January 10, 2014 and September 25, 2015.

The Herald:

One of the highest profile people to be brought to the ICC is Ivory Coast's former President Laurent Gbagbo. He has been held for three years in the Hague facing charges of crimes against humanity.

The Sunday Herald contacted the office of Tony Blair but no response was forthcoming.