UK defense chief 'misleads public' over Iraq war costs: report

British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon has been accused of misleading the public after it emerged that 100 million pounds (about 167 million US Dollars) of Iraq war costs are being charged to the cash-strapped budget of the Ministry of Defense, the British Financial Times newspaper reported Saturday.

Hoon has claimed that all extra costs for the US-led war against Iraq and continuing military presence in Iraq are being met through the 3 billion pounds contingency fund agreed by the British Treasury.

But 100 million pounds of 510 million pounds spent to date on "urgent operational requirements" for the war would be met from the budget of the Ministry of Defense (MoD), the paper quoted some Defense officials as saying.

The money relates mainly to equipment, such as night sights, which was bought for the war but would be used after the conflict, the officials told the paper.

The statement appeared to conflict with Hoon's assurances that Iraq has not exacerbated the case squeeze on his department, the paper said. Hoon told the BBC this week that he would "emphasize first of all that the costs of Iraq are not part of the budget."

The Defense Ministry's admission showed the government had failed to come clean about the true financial impact of the Iraq war, the paper quoted the British opposition Conservative Party as saying.

"The government pretense about this has been 100 percent dishonesty. Mr. Hoon is trying to hide his failure to negotiate a proper compensation (for Iraq-related spending) from the Treasury," the paper quoted Bernard Jenkin, the shadow defense secretary, as saying.



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