French president tells three newspapers 'nuclear Iran not big danger', tries to retract next day
French President Jacques Chirac said in an interview with three newspapers that Iran's possession of a nuclear bomb would not be "very dangerous" and that if it used the weapon on Israel, Tehran would be immediately "razed," according to a newspaper report.
Chirac - who made the comments during a Monday interview with The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune and Le Nouvel Observateur, a weekly magazine - called reporters back the next day to try to have his quotes retracted.
Chirac's initial remarks would mark a big departure from France's official policy of deterrence and work in preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
On Monday, Chirac said of Iran and its nuclear program, "I would say that what is dangerous about this situation is not the fact of having a nuclear bomb. Having one or perhaps a second bomb a little later, well, that's not very dangerous."
Instead, Chirac said, the danger lies in the chances of proliferation or an arms race in the Middle East should Iran build a nuclear bomb. Possessing the weapon would be useless for Iran - whose leader has called for Israel to be "wiped off the map" - as using it would mean an instant counterattack.
Regarding his comments that Israel could be a target of an Iranian weapon and that Israel would retaliate, Chirac said, "I don't think I spoke about Israel yesterday. Maybe I did so but I don't think so. I have no recollection of that."
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