France Ready to Replace Iraq’s Nuclear Reactor and Sell Arms to Mideast Countries, but Not Israel

France is ready to replace the Iraqi nuclear reactor destroyed by Israel last month, Foreign Minister Claude Cheysson told the Beirut daily “Al Nahar”. Cheysson said that if Iraq makes the request, France will replace the reactor “on the terms we apply to other countries.”

Earlier, he said that France will “multiply checks and controls to ensure that civilian reactors are not used for military purposes.”

Cheysson also said France will sell arms to Middle East countries but not to Israel. He added that arms will not be sold to countries with totalitarian regimes or which are at war. “As far as the Middle East is concerned, only the second restriction is applicable,” he said. “As a consequence (of the restriction) we shall not deliver arms to Israel.”

Cheysson named Saudi Arabia, Iraq, the Persian Gulf States, Egypt and North Africa as countries to which France is prepared to sell weapons. Last week he told the weekly Le Nouvel Observateur that arms exports are “vital for our industry” and that 300,000 people are directly employed by it. He said that the export of weapons is essential to French industry and to the country’s defense.

REAFFIRMS RECOGNITION OF PLO

Cheysson reiterated France’s recognition of the Palestine Liberation Organization as “one of the representatives of the Palestinian people,” saying that the Palestinians do not have, under current conditions, the possibility to democratically chose their representatives. He said the PLO might emerge as the sole Palestinian representative “when conditions become adapted to their free, democratic choice.”

French officials refused to comment on Cheysson’s declaration. Only State Minister for Foreign Trade, Michel Jobert, confirmed Paris’ readiness to replace the Iraqi reactor “on certain conditions and if Iraq makes the demand.”

When asked whether the training of a nuclear generation in Baghdad might not by itself endanger ultimate peace, Jobert said “there is no stopping progress. All over the world, an increasing number of countries and scientists are about to enter the nuclear age.” Jobert did not comment on Cheysson’s declaration barring Israel from the French arms market.

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