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France's President Jacques Chirac recently became the first Western leader to break a taboo by recognizing that Iran may soon become a nuclear-armed power. He later retracted his statements, but the controversy this has caused continues.

—BBC NEWS VIDEO: Iran 'invites' a delegation of diplomats and reporters to tour one of its nuclear facilities, 00:01:41, Feb. 2WindowsVideo

RealVideo[LATEST NEWSWIRE PHOTOS: Iran's nuclear program].

Iran's top dogs: The unelected Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the carefully 'elected' President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.





Iran's representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh (2nd R), listens to journalists' questions during a tour of the Isfahan uranium conversion facility, 450km south of Tehran, Feb 3.


Italy's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema, is juggligh a diplomatic incident created by American Ambassador to Italy, Ronald Spogli, after Spogli spearheaded an open letter calling on Italy to maintain its troops in Afghanistan.






Corriere della Sera, Italy

Corriere della Sera, Italy

France Sees a Nuclear Iran as in its Interests

 

"Jacques Chirac's words confirm the concerns of the United States and justify the pressure it has applied to a recalcitrant European Union."

 

By Piero Ostellino

 

Translated By Adrian Trevisan

 

February 2, 2007

 

Italy - Corriere della Sera - Original Article (Italian)

In an interview with The New York Times, the Herald International Tribune and the Nouvel Observateur, the French President said that if Iran were to arm itself with nuclear weapons, there would be no great danger. Therefore, he anticipated that if Iran were to attack Israel with The Bomb, the singular consequence would be Israel's destruction of Iran's capital, Tehran. Then, however, Chirac realized he had made a gross error, and so reconvened the journalists to confess that he thought he had been speaking "unofficially" and off the record, and to have understood too late that he was actually speaking "officially." In the end, he contradicted much of what he said previously.

 

[Editor's Note: Chirac's exact comments were reported to be: "What's dangerous about this situation is not the fact of having a nuclear bomb - having one, maybe a second one a little later, well, that's not very dangerous The danger doesn't lie in the bomb it will have, and which will be of no use to it. Where will it drop it, this bomb? On Israel? It would not have gone 200 meters into the atmosphere before Tehran would be razed ].

 

Plugging the hole makes it worse. When the first and second interviews went to press, the three newspapers - justifiably - created an international incident. Since one likes to say that the only time a politician is sincere is when he's making a mistake, the French President's statement has if nothing else, the substantial virtue of sincerity - despite it being a serious breach of diplomatic etiquette. Like it or not, it's not only France but most of Europe that gives the impression that it believes the Iranians are racing to acquire a nuclear weapon. Still worse are the intentions that underlie this goal: to achieve the destruction of Israel.

 

How to explain Chirac's indifference? The scenario that he anticipates would signify a change that he believes is in the historic geopolitical and geostrategic interests of France in the Middle East. It is also seen as beneficial in terms of the technological assistance that France itself admits to supplying to Iran - probably with Germany and Russia - on the construction of The Bomb within the context of Iran's energy sector. This along with the growing dependence on Iranian oil supplies - is becoming the most acute problem of this century.

 

His words confirm the concerns of the United States and justify the pressure it has applied to a recalcitrant European Union, both to enforce U.N. sanctions against Iran and to considerably reduce its economic and trade relations with Teheran. In addition to this, according to the Americans, Italy is the E.U. country doing the most business with Iranian companies, "involved in terrorism and rearmament." For this reason, Chirac's comments raise a number of questions for our Foreign Minster, Assimo D'Alema [photo in left column].

 

What does he think of a member of the United Nations (Iran) that threatens the destruction of another member (Israel)? When and how does Italy, which is so committed to multilateral diplomacy, intend to make itself heard in the key multilateral forums (the United Nations and European Union) in response to the repeated threats of Iran's President Ahmadinejad - beyond the habitual generic appeal for "talks" between the parties?

 

How will our country contribute - in concrete terms and in cooperation with our European allies and the United States - to averting a possible nuclear war between Iran and Israel? What, finally, is the government that he belongs to going to do, both domestically and bilaterally, to prevent revenue from our legitimate exports to Iran from becoming, even indirectly, part of the "illicit business" - as Washington charges - that would lay serious political and moral responsibility on our doorstep? A clear and definitive response would be useful and appreciated.

 

Italian Version Below

 

A gaffe di Chirac sull'atomica iraniana

 

L'Europa indifferente

 

di Piero Ostellino

 

In un'intervista al New York Times, l'Herald Tribune e il Nouvel Observateur, il presidente francese dice che se l'Iran si dotasse dell'arma nucleare non sarebbe un gran pericolo. Quindi, prevede che, se l'Iran lanciasse su Israele una bomba, il solo risultato sarebbe una reazione israeliana che ne distruggerebbe la capitale, Teheran. Poi, perr, Jacques Chirac si accorge di averla detta grossa, riconvoca i giornalisti e confessa di aver creduto di parlare off the record, +non ufficialmente ;, e di aver capito troppo tardi che, invece, stava parlando on the record, +ufficialmente ;, finendo col contraddire quanto egli stesso aveva ripetutamente affermato in passato.

 

Peggio il rappezzo del buco. I tre giornali pubblicano sia la prima sia la seconda versione e ne fanno, giustamente, un caso internazionale. Poichi si dice che il solo momento in cui un uomo politico h sincero sia quando commette una gaffe, quella del presidente francese, ancorchi formalmente grave sotto il profilo del galateo diplomatico, ha, se non altro, il pregio sostanziale della sincerit`. Che piaccia o no, quello h davvero cir che non solo la Francia, ma l'Europa danno l'impressione di pensare della corsa iraniana all'arma nucleare e, quel che h peggio, delle intenzioni che la sottendono: pervenire alla distruzione di Israele.

 

Concorrono a spiegare l'indifferenza di Chirac, per cir che significherebbe lo scenario da lui stesso illustrato, gli storici interessi geopolitici e geostrategici della Francia nell'area mediorientale, l'aiuto tecnologico che essa si dice fornisca all'Iran, probabilmente con la Germania e la Russia, nella costruzione della bomba, la prospettiva che il fattore energetico - la crescente esigenza di contare sugli approvvigionamenti di petrolio iraniano - stia diventando il problema piy acuto di questo secolo col quale si h aperto il nuovo millennio.

 

Trovano, cosl, conferma le preoccupazioni degli Stati Uniti e si giustificano le loro pressioni affinchi l'Unione europea, finora recalcitrante, imponga all'Iran le sanzioni previste dall'Onu e riduca considerevolmente i suoi rapporti economici e commerciali con Teheran. Poichi, inoltre, l'Italia, secondo gli americani, sarebbe, fra quelli dell'Ue, il Paese piy attivo in affari con le compagnie iraniane +coinvolte nel terrorismo e nel riarmo ;, la gaffe di Chirac solleva una serie di interrogativi che giriamo formalmente al nostro ministro degli Esteri, onorevole Massimo D'Alema.

 

Che cosa egli pensi di un Paese membro delle Nazioni Unite (l'Iran) che minaccia di distruzione un altro Paese membro (Israele); se e come l'Italia, tanto attenta alla diplomazia multilaterale, voglia far sentire nelle sedi multilaterali per eccellenza (le Nazioni Unite e l'Unione europea) la propria voce, che non sia il solito generico appello al +dialogo; fra le parti, di fronte alle ripetute minacce del presidente iraniano Ahmadinejad; come il nostro Paese possa e voglia concorrere, in concreto e in sintonia con i suoi alleati europei e gli Stati Uniti, a scongiurare la prospettiva di una guerra nucleare fra Iran e Israele; che cosa, infine, il governo cui egli appartiene intenda fare, sul piano interno e bilaterale, per evitare che i crediti alle nostre legittime esportazioni verso l'Iran si trasformino, di fatto e per quanto indirettamente, in un'occasione di +affari illeciti; come denuncia Washington che comporterebbe una grave responsabilit` politica e morale da parte nostra. Una risposta chiara e definitiva sarebbe utile e gradita.

 

02 febbraio 2007