Monday, February 05, 2007

Chirac’s Iran Gaffe Reveals a Strategy: Containment - New York Times 

Chirac’s Iran Gaffe Reveals a Strategy: Containment - New York Times:

Confusing messages being sent from the Elysee Palace in Paris, France.

"PARIS, Feb. 2 — When President Jacques Chirac said this week that he would not be overly worried if Iran obtained a nuclear weapon, he inadvertently said aloud what some policy makers and arms control experts have been whispering: that the world may have to learn to live with a nuclear Iran.
Mr. Chirac quickly retracted his words, and Élysée Palace reaffirmed France’s commitment to preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear-weapons state. But in veering from the prepared script and letting the veil of caution fall, he became the first Western leader to imply that containment of a nuclear Iran is preferable to other options, especially war.
“Jacques Chirac said things that many experts are saying around the world, even in the United States,” Hubert Védrine, foreign minister from 1997 to 2002, said on LCI television on Friday. “That is to say, that a country that possesses the bomb does not use it and automatically enters the system of deterrence and doesn’t take absurd risks.”
The logic of the argument goes this way: Iran is making enriched uranium, which can be used either for making electricity or, with additional enrichment, nuclear weapons. If Iran masters that process for military purposes, it may be able to build a bomb or two in the next few years.
Under that thinking, the only realistic goal is to slow down the process as long as possible. But even if Iran has the bomb, it will be subject to the same classic doctrine of nuclear deterrence that restrained the nuclear powers during the cold war. "


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