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Tuesday, 4 November 2003
Page: 22011

Mr Rudd asked the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 4 February 2003:

(1) Has he made statements about the need to prevent Iraq from providing terrorists with weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

(2) Has his attention been drawn to the text of a letter from George Tenet, Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in which Mr Tenet argues that Saddam is more likely to assist terrorists with WMD in the event of a US first strike against Iraq; if so, why does he argue the case for a pre-emptive strike against Iraq as the best means of preventing Saddam providing WMD to terrorists.

(3) Has his attention also been drawn to statements by the Defence Minister on 27 November 2002 who, when asked for the Minister's reaction to a letter from the Director of the CIA arguing that Saddam Hussein was likely to be much less constrained in adopting terrorist actions involving chemical and biological weapons in the event of a US-led attack, Senator Hill said that the views had not been verified.

(4) Does he share the view of the Defence Minister that the CIA views on the impact of a US first strike on Iraqi behaviour in providing WMD to terrorists cannot be verified.

Mr Howard (Prime Minister) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) Yes. I have stated on several occasions that one of the government's primary concerns with respect to Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction was that the more the world leaves unchecked either the possession of weapons of mass destruction by rogue states or the spread of those weapons, the more likely it becomes that terrorists will acquire and use them.

(2) to (4) These issues have been overtaken by the successful coalition campaign in Iraq.