Premier Laurent Fabius, contradicting previous official claims of innocence, admitted Sunday night that French intelligence agents, acting under authorization, blew up the anti-nuclear protest ship Rainbow Warrior in New Zealand 10 weeks ago.
[Paul Quiles], who stood by Fabius' side in the Hotel Matignon, the premier's office, was appointed Friday after [Francois Mitterrand] and Fabius forced the resignation of Minister of Defense Charles Hernu and dismissed Adm. Pierre Lacoste as director of the General Directorate of External Security (DGSE), as the French intelligence agency is known.
Fabius' statement Sunday was unlikely to quiet the growing furor in France over the affair since it failed to establish responsibility for the bombing. Also, the long delay in admitting French guilt has embarrassed the government, and a cover-up was obviously attempted. The pattern of government revelations so far hints that the government may intend to blame the intelligence agency for acting on its own. Hernu, who had insisted for weeks on the innocence of the intelligence agency, which is a part of the Defense Ministry, claimed in his letter of resignation that he had discovered only Thursday that he had been lied to. Lacoste, the director of intelligence, was dismissed after he refused to reply in writing to questions about the bombing.