Jacques Chirac stunned reporters with his nonchalance over the prospect of a nuclear Iran. One or two little bombs didn’t make much of an impression on him, he said in an interview with the New York Times and a French newspaper:
President Jacques Chirac said this week that if Iran had one or two nuclear weapons, it would not pose a big danger, and that if Iran were to launch a nuclear weapon against a country like Israel, it would lead to the immediate destruction of Tehran.
The remarks, made in an interview on Monday with The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune and Le Nouvel Observateur, a weekly magazine, were vastly different from stated French policy and what Mr. Chirac has often said.
On Tuesday, Mr. Chirac summoned the same journalists back to Élysée Palace to retract many of his remarks.
Mr. Chirac said repeatedly during the second interview that he had spoken casually and quickly the day before because he believed he had been talking about Iran off the record.
The French government obviously felt quite a bit of embarrassment over Chirac’s remarks and the effect they could have on EU efforts to hold back the Bush administration on Iran. They released their own version of the session in a transcript that heavily edited Chirac’s statements, and even inserted something he didn’t say at all. France understood better than its leader that shrugging off a nuclear bomb or two would make for very poor public relations — even if they privately agree.
This goes a long way towards explaining European hesitancy towards pressing Iran to stop its nuclear program. They seem stuck in the era of mutually-assured destruction, when both sides of the nuclear divide had rational actors at the helm. Neither side figured to win a nuclear exchange, and it only ended when the Reagan administration turned the issue into an economic war that defeated the Soviets without firing a shot. Unfortunately, Iran doesn’t have rational actors attached to the fingers on the button; they have a millenial group of theocrats who believe that global chaos will bring the advent of their messiah, and they have paved a road for him to travel to Teheran.
Chirac has a good point about proliferation, too, but one or two nukes is enough to make Iran extremely dangerous. The nuke that destroys Tel Aviv will not go 200 meters into the atmosphere, which Chirac noted would bring a response that would raze Teheran. It will get smuggled into Tel Aviv by Hezbollah or Islamic Jihad, two of Iran’s terrorist front groups. Iran will keep its hands as clean as they possibly can to delay an Israeli or American response, one that Europe would no doubt oppose until we could deliver “proof” that Iran backed the attack.
This so clearly shows why the EU and “Old Europe” cannot be trusted on Iran and other matters of security, I’m a little surprised the New York Times reported it.