It’s not unusual for French government officials to be caught expressing their deep felt opinions, like French ambassador, Daniel Bernard’s reference to Israel as that “shitty little country“, or President Chirac’s labeling Finland’s Foreign Minister, Erkki Tuomioja as a “total zero” (perhaps in ET’s case it’s totally justifiable).
Now Chirac has let it slip (on purpose?) that perhaps a nuke or two in the hands of the Iranian Mullocracy wouldn’t be such a terrible thing after all.
“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.”
Well that bombshell of a statement sent the presses of The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune and Le Nouvel Observateur “a rolling”, sending Chirac into an automatic “spin cycle” to help control the damage caused by the outrageous statement. So Chirac “summons the same journalists back to the to Élysée Palace to retract many of his remarks”, …kind of. Its not that he actually disagrees with his statements, but that he should have realized that he was not speaking “off the record“.
“I would say that what is dangerous about this situation is not the fact of having a nuclear bomb,” he said. “Having one or perhaps a second bomb a little later, well, that’s not very dangerous.” “But what is very dangerous is proliferation. This means that if Iran continues in the direction it has taken and totally masters nuclear-generated electricity, the danger does not lie in the bomb it will have, and which will be of no use to it.” Mr. Chirac said it would be an act of self-destruction for Iran to use a nuclear weapon against another country. “Where will it drop it, this bomb? On Israel?” Mr. Chirac asked. “It would not have gone 200 meters into the atmosphere before Tehran would be razed.”
The article goes on to give the unique qualifier that “it’s unclear whether Chirac’s initial remarks reflected what he truly believes.” Hello, the fact that a statesman delivers a remark he believes is “not on the record”, is probably the only time you can be sure that a politician is actually saying what s/he means. What is unclear, is why journalists, ELAINE SCIOLINO and KATRIN BENNHOLD felt that they needed to qualify the Chirac statements, either he said them or he didn’t.
That Chirac even entertains such buffoonish thoughts is worrisome enough, but given the fact that he doesn’t reject the journalists’ version outright, complaining only of “not understanding that his words were on the record“, gives rise to speculation that he wants France to be “on the record” before any future hostilities begin. Chirac’s “surprise” over his quotes appearing in print, is typical for cynical French politics. I am shocked, shocked I tell you!
The message Chirac is sending to Iran via these journalists is, “don’t expect any French involvement in bombing your nuke facilities, just remember who your friends are when it comes time for rebuilding”. More here. *L* KGS
Update: I don’t particularly buy the spin by the IHT or the Times that Chirac misspoke due to reasons of health, since Chirac openly admits that “he should have realized that he was on the record”. Anything is possible though.