Courtesy Reuters

Setting the Record Straight

By Jean-David Levitte

To the Editor:

In his survey of U.S.-British relations, Lawrence Freedman writes, "The decision by French President Jacques Chirac to oppose war regardless of what [UN] inspectors found put [British Prime Minister Tony] Blair's whole diplomatic strategy in jeopardy" ("The Special Relationship, Then and Now," May/June 2006).

I would like to correct this misrepresentation of France's policy on Iraq. France strongly supported the return of UN inspectors to Iraq and actively participated in drafting UN Security Council Resolution 1441, which told Iraq to comply with previous UN resolutions. Our position on the question of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) was that we needed to have the UN inspectors assess the situation and measure Iraq's cooperation. Had there been evidence of a secret WMD program or a blatant lack of cooperation with the inspection process on the part of Iraq, we would have ruled out no option, including, as a last resort, military strikes, had that been the decision of the Security Council.

France eventually opposed a rush to war after considering the inspectors' reports because there was no imminent threat to international peace and security or evidence of a WMD program and because Iraq had started to actively cooperate with the inspectors, including by destroying its al Samoud-2 missiles.

Jean-David Levitte

Ambassador of France to the United States

Jean-David Levitte is the Ambassador of France to the United States

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