Papers Publish Report On Iran Arms Sales
PARIS (AP) _ Two newspapers today published what they said was a confidential government report alleging that top officials in the former Socialist administration knew about a private company’s illegal arms sales to Iran.
The text, in Le Monde and Le Figaro, charged that President Francois Mitterrand, a Socialist, knew about the sales as early as 1984. It also claimed some of the profits of the sales may have been turned over to the Socialist Party by associates of former Defense Minister Charles Hernu.
Hernu and many other principals named in the report have denied approving the sale of an estimated half million artillery shells to Iran. Mitterrand has issued no comment.
Tss articles last weekend about the report, classified ″confidential defense,″ shocked France with the assertion that former high-ranking officials in the Defense Ministry allowed the illegal sales to continue.
The report published today claimed Mitterrand had been informed of the sales as early as 1984.
The French press reported last year that the Luchaire company sold artillery shells to Iran in contravention of a 1980 French embargo. The alleged official complicity and the possible Socialist Party connection, however, have raised the affair to the level of a political scandal.
The Socialists had been demanding that the report by Jean-Francois Barba, comptroller-general of the armies, be made public. Pierre Joxe, president of the Socialist group in the National Assembly, called it an ″unprecedented political situation: a ‘confidential defense’ document is feeding accusations against the Socialist Party, which finds it impossible to know its contents.″
The Socialists were ousted from power in the National Assembly by the right wing in March 1986, forcing what the French call ″cohabitation″ between a Socialist president and a conservative government.
Alain Juppe, a spokesman for the government, has denied it was behind the leaking of the report and said the investigating magistrates and prosecutor’s office ″were not manipulated by the government.″
On Tuesday, the investigating magistrate, Michel Legrand, formally demanded that the Defense Ministry declassify the report so it could be used in his case.
According to the text printed in Le Figaro and Le Monde, Barba concluded:
-That Luchaire sold about 500,000 155mm and 203mm shells to Iran between 1983 and 1986.
-That the company used administrative authorizations given for deliveries to Greece, Yugoslavia, Portugal, Equador, Peru, Brazil, Thailand and Pakistan after furnishing false ″end user″ papers.
-That Daniel Dewavrin, president of Luchaire, admitted the facts and claimed the operations had been ″covered″ by the office of Hernu, the defense minister.
-That the Defense Ministry was aware of the traffic since January 1984 and did nothing about it.
-That there is a possibility that as much as 3 million francs ($500,000) from the sales were turned over to the Socialist Party by a close associate of Hernu.
-That the system of control for arms exports was imperfect.