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10.04.2003

"French Rockets In Iraq" Story Discredited

Yesterday Glenn Reynolds and others linked to a Reuters story about brand-new French anti-aircraft rockets found in Iraq. The rockets were supposedly manufactured in 2003, making them hyper-illegal and implying that France was actively arming Iraq during the buildup to Gulf War II:

WARSAW (Reuters) - Polish troops in Iraq have found four French-built advanced anti-aircraft missiles which were built this year, a Polish Defense Ministry spokesman told Reuters Friday.
But in today's Gazeta Wyborcza, we find out that our brave soldiers just misread the date:
According to Polish diplomats in Rome, the confusion was caused by an error made by Polish soldiers: the date on the French rockets was an expiration date, and not the date of manufacture. "The Minister of National Defense, Jerzy Szmajdzinski, expresses regret in connection with information on the alleged production date of the missiles. He has requested a full investigation into the incident and a report without delay".
It now seems the French rockets were sold to Iraq way before the embargo, back when the US and other Western nations were falling over themselves to sell arms to Iraq. The story did not get cleared with the Ministry of Defense or any other bigwigs before being made public. The French government is really, really, really ticked off at Poland, and I can't say I blame them. Next week: Polish troops in Iraq get sick from drinking expired milk.

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