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Mr. Peter Kilfoyle (Liverpool, Walton) (Lab): Is my right hon. Friend concerned about the sometimes nefarious activities of the National Council of Resistance of Iran? Does not that have unhealthy echoes of propaganda of the kind that was exercised before the Iraq war by the expatriate Iraqi opposition parties? Is he not concerned that such people have a ready audience in some quarters among the neo-conservatives in Washington?

Donald Anderson: It is clear that the Mujaheddin and the National Council of Resistance of Iran are on our terrorist list. It is also clear that they have excellent sources in Iran. Had it not been for the clear intelligence that they gave us, we would have been unaware of that history of concealment on the part of the Iranian Government. Even latterly, there has been useful evidence given in that respect, so it is absolutely right that we in the EU work closely with the Iranians, but, given that history of concealment, we must do so with some scepticism while also rejecting the US policy of going immediately to the Security Council.

One thing is absolutely clear: there is no mileage in going to the UN Security Council. If we did so, such a resolution in relation to sanctions would be vetoed by Russia and China. There is no useful development in that respect.

Mr. Jon Owen Jones: Is it not true—this is the case in almost every example I can think of—that when a country wishes to avail itself of nuclear power its motivation, whether justified or not, is almost always that another country in the same theatre has nuclear power and that it is trying to protect itself from that? Is not that line of argument one that should be developed in relation to Iran's desire to have nuclear power?

Donald Anderson: That is a very plausible reason. Indeed, it might be argued that we could not have invaded Iraq if that country had developed its nuclear capability, which it clearly intended to do. We could therefore reach a conclusion either way as to whether, as it was aiming to do that, a pre-emptive strike was justified. However, I shall not follow my hon. Friend down that road. The only way that we can therefore respond to Iran's concern is by giving guarantees to Iran, and by providing sufficient incentives in commercial links and through civil nuclear know-how from Europe. That, I believe, is part of the package.

Jeremy Corbyn rose—

Mr. Kilfoyle rose—

Mr. Jon Owen Jones rose—

Donald Anderson: The only colleague whom I have not given way to is my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Jeremy Corbyn).

Jeremy Corbyn: Before my right hon. Friend leaves the subject of Iran and the dangers of nuclear weapons there, would he care to comment on the presence of known nuclear missiles in Israel and the build-up to the
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nuclear non-proliferation treaty conference next year, when it is essential that we get some sort of worldwide agreement? That will not be helped if Britain and the United States are busy developing a new generation of nuclear missiles at the same time.

Donald Anderson: I have heard what my right hon. Friend the Defence Secretary said today in relation to the next generation of nuclear missiles. Certainly, I hope that we will play a positive role in the coming NPT conference. That is an interesting debate, but it is one to come.

Mr. Kilfoyle: Will my hon. Friend give way?

Donald Anderson: I have already given way to my hon. Friend, and it would be unfair to other colleagues if I did not make progress.

As far as Iraq is concerned, it is most important that the elections set for 30 January proceed. They will be the first democratic elections in Iraq for more than 50 years, and it is vital that the Government there are given legitimacy in their country and region. If the Shi'a community gain the majority, we urge them to try to be as inclusive as possible in their country. It would be wholly inconceivable for us to allow Iraq to degenerate into chaos—it would have implications for the entire region were it to become a failed state. Certainly, the indications from the Sharm el-Sheikh conference have so far been quite positive.

I have mentioned a few points in relation to proliferation. I have mentioned the linkage with terrorist groups, and we have no evidence thus far that terrorist groups, although they have tried hard, have such a capacity. However, the International Atomic Energy Agency, led by Dr. el-Baradei, recently warned about a "race against time" to stop a nuclear terrorist outrage. Clearly, we need to engage with North Korea and Iran. Either regime could pass fissile material to terrorists or provide the tipping point for its region. As I said earlier, we must offer incentives and security assurances.

Our great worry is the former Soviet nuclear stock, which was highlighted by the Foreign Affairs Committee report of July 2004. Russia's record since 1991 has raised major concerns in relation to non-proliferation efforts associated with the war against terrorism. For example, the nuclear sector still produces large quantities of weapons-grade plutonium and no comprehensive inventories of fissile stockpiles exist. Clearly, many in Russia, as the Committee's report showed, benefit greatly from the trade in weapons of mass destruction. The Committee concluded that the Co-operative Threat Reduction Initiative, with massive funds at its disposal to deal with the proliferation of the Soviet Union's weapons of mass destruction legacy, is essential. Within that, the Nunn-Lugar initiative deals not only with centralising and guarding stockpiles, which in the past were the responsibility of the KGB, but decommissioning nuclear submarines in Murmansk and elsewhere. That is vital.

I only mention in passing the crowded agenda in terms of Africa, where there at least seems to be some progress in Darfur and in the north-south peace initiatives, which I have charted since 1965 and before.
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Some Members will no doubt raise climate change and UN reform, but I will turn finally to the European Union.

Over the period covered by the Queen's Speech, key developments are likely in preparing for the referendum on the constitution. In deciding next month on the candidate status of Turkey, we must recognise how far Turkey has come in changing its internal policies and consider the importance of implementation. We must also recognise that the internal dynamics of the European Union are changing with enlargement. No longer can France and Germany be the key motor of the European Union. It will be a far more diffuse, disparate power structure, in which we can make an important contribution.

All the factors that I have mentioned, such as terrorism and drugs, are linked by the fact that we in the United Kingdom and our Government can make a difference to them. We make a difference through our series of alliances and membership of international organisations, derived from our proud history as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and as members of the European Union, NATO, the Commonwealth and the G8. We can also make that contribution because of the unique personal relationship that the Prime Minister has with President Bush, as the United States is the only remaining superpower. Finally and more immediately, over the next year, we shall head the G8, and will to some extent be able to set its agenda, and in the second half of next year, we shall have the presidency of the European Union, at a time when key decisions will be made. It is an exciting time to contribute to a debate on foreign affairs.

Years ago, a former Foreign Secretary, Michael Stewart, told me that for him—he looked extremely tired in saying this—the matter of concern was that at any one moment of the day, two thirds of the world were awake and capable of causing mischief. That was never more so than today.

1.27 pm

Sir Menzies Campbell (North-East Fife) (LD): I have no doubt whatever that foreign affairs will form a major part of this Government's agenda between now and the general election, which is generally accepted as being likely to take place on the first Thursday in May next year.

Darfur, the middle east, Iran, United Nations reform, Ukraine, Russia, Europe, Zimbabwe and the transatlantic relationship—all are issues that will be on the foreign policy agenda. Over all of those hangs the long, dark shadow of Iraq. The Defence Secretary, in opening the debate, acknowledged that that issue was divisive in the House and in the country. Nothing that has occurred has caused me to alter my view that the military action that was taken in March 2003 was illegal, and taken on a flawed prospectus. That military action has imposed on us all, whether supporters or opponents, a moral obligation to the people of Iraq, which is painful, expensive and dangerous to fulfil.

The background of that obligation is that we now know that there were no weapons of mass destruction; there was no serious and current threat; there was no
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real and present danger; and at least 12 months before the war, there was an overt acceptance, between the White House and No. 10 Downing street, that regime change was in contemplation and, on the United Kingdom's side, an explicit understanding that regime change would be illegal.

Like everyone else, I welcome the announcement that elections for a transitional national assembly will take place in January, but we should not underestimate the difficulty of keeping that commitment, and the costs that may be incurred. The United States-led strategy of using overwhelming force in Falluja seems to me to be highly questionable and likely to prove counter-productive. A devastating military victory may have been won, but I question how many hearts and minds have been won at the same time.

I have no doubt that much more must be done, urgently, to train, equip and motivate Iraqi military and police forces. The continued presence of multinational forces in such large numbers would not have been required if concerted efforts had been made much earlier to establish effective Iraqi security forces, and the wholesale disbandment of the Iraqi army can now be seen as a grievous error. On that I wholeheartedly agree with the hon. Member for Mid-Sussex (Mr. Soames).

The difficulty is that without greater security, the humanitarian situation cannot be improved. In fact, as the security situation has deteriorated, an increasing number of aid agencies have left the country, not wishing to subject even their most dedicated workers to the risks of kidnap or worse. It is essential for the humanitarian consequences of their withdrawal to be met. Not the least important task is to deal with the tens of thousands of people who were displaced by recent fighting, and to ensure that they have access to food, water, shelter, electricity and medicines.

As I have said, my colleagues and I still believe that the military action was both illegal and unnecessary. We believe that questions of political accountability remain unanswered. That is why we tabled to the Gracious Speech an amendment that regrets the absence of any legislative measure

The Hutton inquiry was established to investigate the death of David Kelly. The remit of our own Intelligence and Security Committee and Butler inquiries was to examine the adequacy, assessment and use of intelligence. None of those inquiries, however, has examined or assessed the full political, legal and strategic advice given to the Prime Minister before the war; nor, indeed, has the Prime Minister's competence and judgment in the light of that advice been the subject of review. I hold it to be fundamental that the British Parliament has every right to hold the Prime Minister to account on Iraq, and fundamental for constitutional matters of war and peace to be addressed in full.

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