Jacques Chirac
French President
Jacques Chirac

France has announced it could assist any US-led military coalition if Iraq uses chemical and biological weapons.

The turnaround comes after strong French opposition to a war in Iraq, including threats to veto a UN Security Council resolution paving the way for armed conflict.

French ambassador Jean-David Levitte said: "If Saddam Hussein were to use chemical and biological weapons, this would change the situation completely and immediately for the French government."

Mr Levitte said a decision on any French participation in the war would be made by French President Jacques Chirac, if and when biological or chemical weapons were used.

Although he declined to give details on the possible shape of French participation, Levitte said, "We have equipment to fight in these circumstances."

Last Updated: 07:25 UK, Wednesday March 19, 2003