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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 10834


Photo of Howard, John

Howard, John

Period of Service: 11/03/1996 to 03/12/2007

More information about Howard, John on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 16/02/1998

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 10834

Agreement has been reached with the United States that Australia will

contribute a unit from the Special Air Services Regiment and two Boeing

707s for transport/air-to-air refuelling to support the international

coalition against Iraq being formed in the Persian Gulf.

The National Security Committee of Cabinet has this afternoon approved

the deployment of these ADF elements to the Gulf. The contingent will

depart tomorrow in order to prepare themselves for participation in

coalition military operations should that prove necessary.

Discussions are continuing on the possibility also of providing specialists

for back up in medical and technical support roles.

The Government continues to hope that force will not be needed. We

strongly support diplomatic efforts to persuade Iraq to comply fully

with UN Security Council resolutions requiring it to dismantle its

chemical and biological weapons programmes and allow inspections.

There is still time for Iraq to reconsider.

The decision to deploy the contingent is not a decision to commit

our forces to active operations. Such a decision would be made only

if it became clear that resort to force remained the only option.

The decision to deploy now has been made to ensure that our contingent

has the maximum opportunity for training, familiarisation and acclimatisation.

The Australian contingent will remain under Australian national command

and will be placed under operational control of the coalition commander

for agreed tasks.

I welcome New Zealand's announcement that it will contribute

an SAS unit and two Orion reconnaissance aircraft to the coalition

and we are discussing with New Zealand ways in which our contingents

can work together.

The decision to commit forces is a difficult one which the Government

would have preferred not to have to face. But we cannot ignore the

threat to stability posed by Saddam Hussein's possession of weapons

of mass destruction and his flouting of the United Nations.

Transcript 10834