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February 14, 2003

RICHARD PERLE SAYS THAT FOR THE FRENCH, IT'S ALL ABOUT OIL:

Richard Perle, a former US Assistant Defence Secretary, said the French anti-war stance was driven by economic interests. French oil giant TotalFinaElf has exclusive exploration contracts worth €60bn - €75bn to develop the massive Majnoon and Bin Umar oilfields in southern Iraq, he said.

“What’s distinctive about the Total contract is that it’s not favourable to Iraq, it’s favourable to Total,” Mr Perle, the chairman of the Pentagon’s Defence Policy Board, said during an address in New York.

“One can suspect that there’s some arbitrage there, that in between the real value of that contract and the cash value of that contract there’s a certain amount of political support.

“It’s entirely possible that Saddam negotiated that deal because that along with the revenues, he could get something else.”

He said oil experts who had analysed the deal described it as “extraordinarily lopsided” in favour of the French company.

Gee, imagine that.

UPDATE: And Juan Gato thinks he's found the explanation for French Mugabe-coddling.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's more on the French oil connection.