Official Explains French Position on Iraq

DE VILLEPIN: But, they are already convinced. There is no majority today. You see, the time where you can imagine the diplomacy was arm twisting, buying votes, has passed. Today, we are facing public opinions. We are facing people around the world and the vast majority are said to you, more than 90 percent of the world think that we need to give more time to the inspectors. And the vast majority of the security council still believe that we should do whatever we have to do before using force.

STEPHANOPOULOS: France and Iraq have a long and complicated history on nuclear cooperation. France provided the original nuclear reactors to Iraq. Given what Saddam Hussein has said in the past, he has said the only mistake he made in 1991 was invading Kuwait before he had nuclear weapons. Do you now believe that Israel was right to bomb the Osaraq(sp?) reactor and France was wrong to help build it?

DE VILLEPIN: I think you cannot remake history. You can take lessons. You can imagine different scenarios. I don't think it's possible today definite answers. I think that the idea of preemptive strike might be a possibility. Have it as a doctrine, as a theory, I don't think it is really useful. Sometimes by using force preemptively we might create more violence and we have to be always thinking to what are the consequences.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me just ask one final question. If the United States goes forward anyway and in a month, two months, they go into Baghdad, they go into Iraq, and discover thousands of tons of chemical/biological weapons, what would you think then?

DE VILLEPIN: Well I think that we should have gave more time to the inspectors to make sure that this was going to happen. You see if the army is going to find it, don't you think the inspectors are in the position to find it? I think, and that's why we said we are ready to reinforce the inspectors, to give more hundreds of inspectors on the ground. We have the possibility everyday to know more about these programs. We should use this possibility. Every day we know more about these programs.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. de Villepin thank you very much

DE VILLEPIN: Thank you so much.

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