Howard denies Iraq oil motive

PM contradicts defence minister who said oil was one reason for staying in Iraq.

    Australia has about 1,500 troops in
    and around Iraq [GALLO/GETTY]

    Brendan Nelson, his defence minister, had said earlier that "energy security" was one of the main priorities behind his country's support for the war.
     
    His remarks added weight to war protesters' arguments that the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 was amied at grabbing the country's oil supplies rather than a bid to counter the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, which later proved to be non-existent.
     
    Nelson told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that Australia's priorities were set out in a defence and security review being released on Thursday "and resource security is one of them".
     
    US 'prestige'
     
    He said: "Obviously the Middle East itself, not only Iraq, but the entire region is an important supplier of energy, oil in particular, to the rest of the world.
     
    "It's extremely important that Australia take the view that it's in our interests, our security interests, to make sure that we leave the Middle East, and leave Iraq in particular, in a position of sustainable security."
     
    Nelson also said it was important to support the "prestige" of the US and UK.
     
    "We're also there to support our key ally - that's the United States of America - and we're there to ensure that we don't have terrorism driven from Iraq which would destabilise our own region," he said.
     

    Howard sent 2,000 troops to support US and British forces in the invasion. The country now maintains about 1,500 troops in and around Iraq.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    What obstacles do young women in technology have to overcome to achieve their dreams? Play this retro game to find out.

    The War in October: What Happened in 1973?

    The War in October: What Happened in 1973?

    Al Jazeera examines three weeks of war from which both Arabs and Israelis claimed to emerge victorious.