PRAGUE 20 March (ČTK) – Czech military chemists will not go to the front lines during a war. For commanders, they are too precious, said Defense Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik during a press conference at a meeting of the [Czech] security council today. He added that all of the approximately 400 Czech and Slovak soldiers who are in Kuwait are all right.

“Allied commanders are counting on the Czech-Slovak unit, which is, in their opinion, one of the best of its kind in the world,” the minister said.

According to the Czech government’s and parliament’s declaration, they can join in the war in Iraq only in case weapons of mass destruction are used, or if there is suspicion that they have been used. Then Czech soldiers would be fulfilling their life-saving and humanitarian missions. They could, for example, save civilians in contaminated areas, or secure the transport of drinking water and food for refugees.

“No commander would risk the destruction of their unique capacities in direct military conflict. Our soldiers cannot go to the first fighting lines,” Tvrdik emphasized. Although the cabinet in its Wednesday meeting emphasized that Czech soldiers would not be part of an anti-Iraqi coalition, foreign minister Cyril Svoboda in an interview with the BBC said that the Czechs are with the US. “I am asking Mr. Svoboda for a clarification of this statement,” Premier Vladimir Spidla noted in today’s meeting.