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Last Updated: Sunday, 28 March, 2004, 15:37 GMT 16:37 UK
Report slams Israel spy failures
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Mossad and military intelligence both failed over Iraq and Libya
Israeli intelligence services have been strongly criticised by a parliamentary inquiry for not properly assessing potential threats from Iraq and Libya.

Military intelligence and the Mossad spy agency wrongly played up the risk from Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, said the report by a Knesset committee.

At the same time, agents failed to give warning of Libya's nuclear and chemical weapons programme, the inquiry found.

The committee said there had been a serious failure and reform was needed.

The report is the product of a special investigation by the Knesset subcommittee that monitors Israel's secret services.

The original purpose of the inquiry was to find out whether Israel's intelligence agencies had exaggerated the extent of Iraqi weapons capabilities before last year's US-led invasion.

But the scope was widened when Libya's Colonel Gaddafi announced in December that he was giving up his own WMD programme, of which Israel had known nothing beforehand.

'Worrying failure'

The report described Israeli agents' failure to uncover Libya's weapons programme as "intolerable".

"There was a worrying failure when we woke up one clear morning to find out from foreign intelligence services about its gallop toward nuclear weapons that could threaten the very existence of the state of Israel," it said.

The inquiry also criticised the secret services for their inability to establish whether Iraq had WMDs.

It said they did not succeed in providing "inarguable indications" that Iraq had non-conventional weapons, nor did they manage to allay concerns by proving evidence to the contrary.

The committee, headed by the Likud party's Yuval Steinitz, said there had been a "serious intelligence failure that must lead to house-cleaning and reorganisation".

It recommended several reforms, including the appointment of an intelligence official to report to the prime minister.

The BBC's Richard Forrest
"The report concluded that Israel did not deliberately mislead Britain and the US about Iraq's military capability"

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