Iraq invasion had no legal mandate, says Dutch panel

The Dutch government supported the invasion of Iraq despite it having no legal backing under the law of the Netherlands, a long-awaited investigation concluded yesterday.

The report also said that Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende had little to do with planning the Netherlands' participation in the war.

The Netherlands gave political support to the US-led invasion, allowed the use of its logistics facilities and some US troops passed through the Netherlands on their way to join the invasion.

"The United Nations Security Council resolution on Iraq from the 1990s did not give a mandate to the US-British military intervention in 2003," the Dutch Committee of Inquiry on Iraq said in its 550-page report.

The Netherlands gave political support to the war because of a risk that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, and to support its Nato allies, the US and Britain, who led the invasion, the committee said.

The report said the Dutch government did not adequately inform parliament in 2002 and 2003 about a US request that it support planning for the invasion, and about the timing of Dutch logistical support for the invasion.

In an initial response, Mr Balkenende dismissed the committee's most critical conclusions, saying there were different opinions about the legal mandate for the invasion.