- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 5, 2002

From combined dispatches
PARIS France yesterday said it does not support publishing top-secret evidence on Iraq's purported development of weapons of mass destruction, objecting to plans announced by the United States and Britain.
"We have information of a confidential nature, and you know the importance we've placed on making sure it stays that way," Agence France-Presse quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero as saying.
On Tuesday, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said he would in the coming weeks release damning information about Baghdad's efforts to develop nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and demonstrate the threat posed by Iraq.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said yesterday in Johannesburg that the United States would also release evidence showing Iraq to be seeking to develop weapons of mass destruction "with even greater vigor" than in the past.
But Mr. Valero said Paris remained focused on getting U.N. weapons inspectors back into Iraq. "Since the inspectors left in 1998, it has been by definition more difficult to make any statements" about Baghdad's weapons programs, he said.
Comments by British government officials yesterday suggest the evidence promised by Mr. Blair will offer few, if any, revelations, Reuters news agency reported.
Asked to give an idea of what the evidence might be, one of Mr. Blair's Cabinet colleagues cited findings dating from the early 1990s.
"We have already indicated that the U.N. inspectors discovered vast amounts of chemical and biological weapons when they were there," Junior Foreign Office Minister Mike O'Brien told the British Broadcasting Corporation.
"We know also that Saddam Hussein was trying to develop a nuclear capability and develop a ballistic missile capacity before 1991 and we know that he continued to seek to develop that after 1991 while the U.N. inspectors were there."


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