[EXCERPTS] DoD News Briefing

Thursday, April 30, 1998 - 12:15 p.m. (EDT)
Minister of Defense Alain Richard, Republic of France


Q: On the Gulf issue, for both of you gentlemen, what do you see as the remedy for the intransigence of Saddam Hussein in accounting for his missiles, his warheads that were known to have been loaded? Will France come now to join Britain and the United States with some kind of a punitive or some kind of military measure? And sir, finally, do you see a risk in Iraq of a widening war if some kind of punitive military measures are used?

A: (Richard): I think, fortunately, the situation doesn't give much support to that kind of speculation. There has been an agreement. We are still concerned about UNSCOM being quite effective in all the controls and checks they have to perform, they have to achieve. And we agree with our American friends on the fact that some progress may have been made by the Iraqis to comply with their obligations, but there are quite a lot of remaining concerns. Especially we are preoccupied by biological and chemical weapons capacity which are still to be analyzed and suppressed. So we are really determined to maintain U.S./French cohesion. And we know that is one of the best ways to convince Saddam Hussein to change and to accept the rules coming from the United Nations.

So we are constantly exchanging assessments, especially on the programs which are the most disquieting. And I think our diplomacies are working very closely to pull all the possible advantages from the agreement which was achieved in February.

Q: Do you agree with the Secretary's statement that even if the current round of inspections is completed successfully, that Iraq must still come forward with positive proof on its own that it has destroyed its chemical and biological weapons before sanctions are lifted?

A: (Richard): We try to be consistent on the balance between the sanctions and the overall obligations that Iraq must meet, and of course in our view, we have been agreeing constantly on the existing risk from Iraqi capacities. So we want with a similar resolution as our American friends, to check if the destruction or disappearance of the Iraqi capacities is completely clear. And we'll have, even if I want to be optimistic and to think that some progress is overviewed and is appearingly clear, we have to think of a long term system of safety about Iraqi obligations on this field.

A: (Cohen): The best way to persuade Saddam Hussein to comply, obviously, is to maintain a solidarity of opinion on the part of the allies, and those who are responsible, have been responsible for enforcing the resolutions of the United Nations. There should be no relief for Saddam Hussein until he fully complies with the resolutions. And I've indicated before that he has an affirmative duty not to prove a negative, but to prove a positive -- to prove that he has done what he has claimed he has done. So to the extent that they have claimed to have destroyed 16,600-plus chemical munitions, show us where it was done and when it was done and how it was done. And to the extent that you have claimed to have destroyed all of the VX, produce proof that you have done so -- when and where and how. The same for anthrax. The same for other types of missiles that remain missing in action, so to speak.

So he has an affirmative duty to prove not the negative, but the positive. Until that's done, there should be no relief from sanctions, and I believe there's no disagreement on the part of either one of us or our countries.