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Dominican returning from Baghdad reports on US weapon rumours

A leading French Dominican expert on the Arab world has returned from an information-gathering visit to Baghdad talking about fears that the US military was contemplating using a "new experimental" weapon during the war with Iraq.

The Rome-based Vidimus Dominum religious congregations news service reports that Fr Jean-Jacques Perennes wrote in his journey diary of concern about the possible use of "a new type of weapon ... such as neutron bomb which would have destroyed every type of life ... in a radius of several kilometres."

Fr Perennes, who is Director of the Dominican Institute of Occidental Studies in Cairo, was in Baghdad at the end of August. He said journalists had been kept at a distance for days in order to keep the plans under wraps.

He said Baghdad are other parts of the country is in a state of "total chaos" that he described as "catastrophic".

Fr Perennes added taht the role of the reduced Christian minority could be important.

"Christians in Iraq can play a positive role, much beyond their numeric impact ... regarding the support given to the hopes of the people, such as sustaining discussion in a society that is in the phase of reconstruction, and promoting reconciliation avoid the increase of violence which puts many groups in the population at risk."

Vidimus Dominum

18 Sep 2003