News of Radio Prague

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Iraq has Czechoslovak-made L29 Dolphin fighter planes

A British government dossier on Iraq contains photographs of L-29 Dolphin military fighter planes made in the former communist Czechoslovakia which Saddam Hussein is allegedly trying to transform into carriers for chemical and biological weapons. According to unnamed sources Baghdad acquired the planes and other military technology from the former Czechoslovakia and other communist bloc states during the communist era when Iraq was perceived as an ally. Iraq allegedly acquired them in return for natural resources. The British government claims that Iraq is capable of launching weapons of mass destruction at 45 minutes' notice and is seeking to acquire nuclear capability.

Army helicopter accident injures three people

An army helicopter accident at a military airfield near the West Bohemian town of Plzen is reported to have injured three members of ground crew. According to eyewitnesses the helicopter overturned while its engines were being tested in preparation of a training session . None of the injuries were life threatening and the crew escaped unharmed. A special military commission is investigating the cause of the accident.

News agencies report that this is the third accident in less than two years involving the Czech Airforce's Polish made W-3A Sokol helicopters, which are used across Europe by military, police and rescue services.

Government and Central Bank launch frontal attack against strong crown

The Czech government and the Central Bank have agreed to take effective long term measures against the strong crown. At a meeting in Prague on Tuesday Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla, Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and the Governor of the Central Bank Zdenek Tuma agreed to use all possible monetary policy tools to depreciate the Czech currency. The strong crown makes Czech goods more expensive and less competitive on foreign markets and according to Finance Minister Sobotka Czech exporters are unable to take any more pressure . Analysts say the crown's strengthening is mainly the result of high levels of foreign investment in recent years.

Austrian Foreign Minister tours flood-hit regions

Austria's Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero Waldner on Tuesday toured flood- devastated regions in south Bohemia. Minister Waldner said she was shocked by the extent of the damage and promised early EU aid from a fund which is to be made accessible by the end of September. The Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda who accompanied Mrs. Waldner expressed appreciation of the fact that EU emergency aid funds were being made accessible to candidate countries. He expressed the hope that the solidarity which developed between the Czech Republic and Austria in the wake of the floods would mark the beginning of closer cooperation in bilateral ties.

Weather

Meteorologists report that the first snow has fallen in the Sumava mountains in the south-western part of the country and temperatures have dropped across the Czech Republic. We can expect a cold and drizzly night with nighttime lows at around two degrees above zero. Wednesday should be partly cloudy to overcast with scattered rain showers and day temps between 7 and 11 degrees C.