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Last Updated: Monday, 16 June, 2003, 08:44 GMT 09:44 UK
Australia 'concocted' war claims
By Phil Mercer
BBC correspondent in Sydney

A former Australian intelligence analyst who resigned in protest over the war in Iraq is on his way to Britain to give evidence at a parliamentary inquiry.

Andrew Wilkie has promised to expose what he says are the Australian Government's "exaggerated" claims of weapons of mass destruction, and its "concoction" of links between Saddam Hussein and international terrorists.

Prime Minister John Howard has denied manipulating intelligence information, and has so far resisted calls for an official investigation.

Andrew Wilkie said Australia - like Britain and the United States - went to war on the basis that Iraq had a large weapons of mass destruction programme.

Mr Wilkie said the claim was obviously false, and he is expected to tell the foreign affairs select committee why later this week in London.

The former analyst resigned from an Australian intelligence agency before the invasion of Iraq began.

'Unreliable'

The government in Canberra believes Mr Wilkie will not be a reliable witness.

Ministers say he was never directly involved in assessing sensitive information on Saddam Hussein's regime.

They insist his role only concerned humanitarian matters.

Australia was the third military force in the Gulf, despatching its biggest combat deployment since the Vietnam War.

In a televised address back in March, Mr Howard declared Iraq had weapons capable of "causing death and destruction on a mammoth scale".

His conservative government has stressed that it is only a matter of time before the evidence is found.

Mr Howard has dismissed demands for a parliamentary investigation into the way intelligence was gathered and used before the campaign started.

Opposition Senators in the upper house, however, believe they will soon have the numbers to force an inquiry.




SEE ALSO:
Australian elite forces enter Iraq
21 Mar 03  |  Asia-Pacific


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