Australia ‘uneasy’ with Trump’s stance on Wuhan lab leak

 

The Australian government and its intelligence agencies are understood to be growing increasingly uneasy with the US President's bold claims COVID-19 probably leaked from a Wuhan laboratory.

The origins of coronavirus, and whether it inadvertently leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, is the subject of an investigation by the Five Eyes Intelligence agencies of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, US and UK.

The Daily Telegraph understands the central concern emerging from the Australian government and its security­ agencies is that the US may be putting undue emphasis on the theory the virus originated in a Wuhan laboratory.

President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House on May 3 after returning from a trip to Camp David. Picture: AP
President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House on May 3 after returning from a trip to Camp David. Picture: AP

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In an extraordinary comparison, one senior federal source said there were emerging fears in the intelligence community that the US administration could be repeating mistakes made by George Bush and Tony Blair when they pressured the UN weapons inspector to declare Saddam­ Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

In recent days the lab-leak line of inquiry has been promoted as the most likely cause of the outbreak by US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said there was "a significant amount of evidence" to support it.

The central concern emerging from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and government security­ agencies is that the US may be putting undue emphasis on the theory the virus originated in a Wuhan laboratory. Picture: Getty
The central concern emerging from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and government security­ agencies is that the US may be putting undue emphasis on the theory the virus originated in a Wuhan laboratory. Picture: Getty

The Daily Telegraph understands Australia has seen all of the evidence the US possesses under the intelligence sharing arrangement and there is nothing yet to strongly suggest the naturally-occurring virus came out of the laboratory rather than the wet market. This has led to unrest within Australian intelligence agencies.

The ultimate goal of both the Australian and US governments is the same; seeing China held accountable for its negligence and cover-up of the outbreak which has cost tens of thousands of lives around the world.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the media on May 3 that China was responsible for the spread of disease in the past and must be held accountable for the outbreak of the current pandemic. Picture: AP
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the media on May 3 that China was responsible for the spread of disease in the past and must be held accountable for the outbreak of the current pandemic. Picture: AP

On Saturday, The Daily Telegraph published a dossier compiled by concerned Western governments that lays out the case against China over its "suppression and destruction of evidence", its "deadly denial of human-to-human transmission" and its "assault on international transparency" as it sought to cover-up the coronavirus contagion.

 

The Australian government's official­ position is that COVID-19 most likely originated in a wet market and there is a 5 per cent chance it was born as a result of an accident in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Mr Morrison is taking a more nuanced­ approach than the US that avoids direct accusations against China as he seeks to build consensus for an inquiry at the World Health Assembly in Geneva next month.

US President Donald Trump speaks to Fox News anchors Martha MacCallum and Bret Baier from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, on Monday. Picture: AFP
US President Donald Trump speaks to Fox News anchors Martha MacCallum and Bret Baier from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, on Monday. Picture: AFP

The Prime Minister wrote to the G20 nations on Monday, pitching a review into the pandemic response.

"What's really important is that we have a proper review, an independent review, which looks into the sources of these things in a transparent way so we can learn," he said.

It is understood Mr Morrison does not want to publicly undermine comments­ made by either Mr Trump or Mr Pompeo, with whom the Prime Minister has a particularly good rapport­. In recent days Mr Trump said he has seen evidence that he was not allowed to share which supported the theory the coronavirus was an accidental­ leak from a facility in Wuhan, where there have been concerns about safety practices.

Originally published as Australia 'uneasy' with Trump's bold stance on Wuhan lab leak


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