PARIS, March 21 (UPI) -- French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said Friday that traces of the poison ricin, discovered earlier at a Paris train station, are too minute to have been deadly.
But in a radio interview Sarkozy floated chances the discovery might be linked to the December arrests of an alleged Chechen terrorist network outside Paris.
"We could make a link [between the two] without having proof today," the interior minister told Europe-1 radio.
Two more people were arrested earlier in the week, and allegedly linked to the network, which is suspected of having supplied fighters to Chechen rebels.
During the December arrests outside Paris, police also found chemical formulas for explosives, and other suspicious material. French authorities said the group planned to strike Russian targets in Paris and elsewhere.
The ricin was found Monday in two vials stashed in a left-luggage department at the Lyon train station in Paris. In a short statement Thursday night the Interior Ministry said police found a case containing a total of four vials -- two containing powder -- along with a bottle of liquid, after being alerted by railway officials.
Sarkozy said the two liquid vials also contained ethanol and acetone, ingredients that could be mixed to make ricin. That recipe, he said, had been mentioned in papers linked to the al-Qaida terrorist network. The toxic, vegetable-based poison can lead to death within hours by those who inhale it.
It was not immediately clear what the other two vials of powder contained, or the bottle of liquid also found at the station. An Interior Ministry official contacted by UPI Friday provided no further information. But the ministry says more laboratory investigations are underway, and a criminal investigation has been opened.
"We have no precise information suggesting France is a target" for a terrorist attack, Sarkozy said, but "the investigation is underway" and French anti-terrorist judges have taken up the case.
In January, British authorities arrested several people after reportedly discovering ricin in a North London apartment. The discoveries spark fears of possible biological attacks on European soil.
The French government has stepped up security with the beginning of a second Gulf war. New measures include extra protection of Jewish and Muslim institutions, schools, and of the country's water and food supplies and airports.
Sarkozy also said French authorities have arrested a total of 29 terrorist suspects since November.