President Jacques Chirac warned Thursday that France could respond with nuclear weapons if it was hit in state-sponsored terrorist attack.
Although officials emphasised that Chirac’s comments were not aimed at Tehran, the warning came as France worked with other Western nations to stop Iran becoming a nuclear power.
“Nuclear deterrence … is not aimed at dissuading fanatic terrorists,” Chirac said in a speech at a nuclear submarine base in the western region of Brittany.
“Leaders of states who would use terrorist means against us, just like anyone who would envisage using, in one way or another, arms of mass destruction, must understand that they would expose themselves to a firm and fitting response from us,” he said. “This response could be conventional. It could also be of another nature.”
Chirac, who has the power to decide on deploying nuclear weapons, said there should be no doubt “about our will and our capacity to use nuclear arms” if the country’s vital interests are threatened.
“In numerous countries, radical ideas are spreading, advocating a confrontation of civilizations,” Chirac said.
“Odious attacks” could escalate to “other yet more serious forms involving states” he said, voicing France’s concerns about volatile new alliances emerging between regional powers and terrorists.
Although Chirac did not specify which regional powers, some observers see it as a veiled reference to Iran with its links to militant Islamic groups.
A defense expert at the Foundation for Strategic Research, Bruno Tertrais said Chirac was not changing the threshold for use of French nuclear weapons but the array of threats that could trigger a nuclear response.
“This is a message to any kind of regional power that might believe it could bypass French nuclear deterrence by using terrorist means,” Tertrais said.
In other words, nothing has changed since the Cold War. Only the names are different along with protagonists so it’s no longer called the “Cold War” but the “War on Terror”.
Whatever its called though the effect is the same. To keep humanity divided, with one group or power block at odds with another with the constant threat of conflict hanging over us all.
In plain language, divide and rule is still the operative principle as we move into the next phase of the “War on Terror”.