France asks for U.N. meeting on Iraqi warheads

PARIS (AP) — France on Thursday asked the U.N. commission investigating Iraq’s weapons to determine whether nerve gas has been found on Iraqi warheads.
A French official, meanwhile, denied a published report that French experts had detected traces of the nerve gas VX on Iraqi warheads, and also that France withheld the findings because it didn’t want to undermine Baghdad’s attempts to get U.N. sanctions lifted.
Iraq, which has been the subject of seven years of U.N. weapons inspections, has admitted it tried to make VX but denied it was ever able to make enough, or stabilize it sufficiently to load into weapons.
U.N. arms experts must certify that Iraq has destroyed its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons — and the long-range missiles to deliver them — before the Security Council will lift crippling sanctions imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, sparking the Gulf War.
The controversy came as Tariq Aziz, Iraq’s deputy prime minister, arrived in France after his trip to the United Nations. He was to meet Friday with French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine.