Sunday 12 July 2020

Prime minister disagrees with Iraq report

Prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende does not agree with a number of the conclusions of the Davids’ commission report which heavily criticised the way the government came to support the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The prime minister told a news conference late on Tuesday afternoon that parliament was fully informed about the Americans’ request for help in preparing the invasion. The report said MPs had not been kept in touch with all developments.
And the prime minister reiterated the government’s standpoint that it was up to Saddam Hussein to prove he did not have weapons of mass destruction, not the west to prove that he did. That was the legal basis for the invasion, Balkenende said.
The report said the UN resolutions on the Iraqi weapons programme did not give an adequate legal mandate for the US and British approach.
The prime minister also said he was pleased the report had debunked several persistent rumours about the Dutch position. This includes the claim that the then foreign minister Jaap de Hoop Scheffer was gifted his Nato job by the Americans in exchange for his support for the invasion.
MPs reaction
Cabinet ministers will now work out their own detailed response to the committee report, Balkenende said. This will also include a look at the claims that Dutch intelligence information was played down.
Labour parliamentary leader Mariëtte Hamer said she is ‘surprised to say the least’ at the prime minister’s initial reaction. ‘We feel that he has confused his position with that of the current cabinet, not the then cabinet,’ she said. ‘I expect him to make a new statement.’

More on this

MPs shocked by the Iraq report

For the conclusions in English, click here

For the UK Guardian newspaper’s report click here
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