France rejects proposed UK Iraq tests

13 March 2003
France on 13 March ruled out supporting the UK proposal to set six tests of Iraqi disarmament, drawing an angry response from London. The six demands, announced by UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on 12 March, are: a statement by Saddam Hussein admitting that he has concealed weapons of mass destruction, but will no longer produce or retain them; the delivery of at least 30 scientists for interview outside Iraq, with their families; the surrender of all anthrax, or credible evidence of its destruction; the destruction of all Al Samoud missiles; an account for all unmanned aerial vehicles, including details of any testing of spraying devices for chemical and biological weapons; the surrender all mobile chemical and biological production facilities. French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said that the UK suggestion 'did not respond to the questions the international community is asking.' He said that the demands were about giving Baghdad an ultimatum to avoid war, whereas the focus should be on pursuing peaceful disarmament. Straw responded by calling the French statement 'extraordinary' and made 'without even proper consideration'. The day before, UK ambassador to New York Jeremy Greenstock emphasised that the British proposal constituted a last attempt to maintain the unity of the UN Security Council, calling the tests ' a trial balloon to see if there is a way out of our current difficulties, to see if we can keep the council together'. And he warned: 'Unless you use this repair job, the hole in the ship will sink this ship.' UK Prime Minister Tony Blair is desperate to get a second resolution passed at the UN to quell domestic opposition to war.

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