Thursday, December 13, 2007

Who Is Rattling The Sabre?

When Nicolas Sarkozy and Bernard Kouchner made comments a few months back that were portrayed as suggesting that France would support a war to prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear weapons capacity, Sarkozy was accused of aligning himself with the hawkish elements of the Bush administration. My own feeling is that the remarks were misrepresented, and were made merely to correct any lasting misperception of France's position -- which has consistently been in very firm opposition to an Iranian nuclear weapons capacity -- that may have been caused by Jacques Chirac's off-the-cuff statement last spring that a nuclear Iran could be deterred. So it's interesting to see Sarkozy, in an interview with the Nouvel Obs, give his version of what was really at stake:

Everyone agrees that what the Iranians are doing has no civilian explanation. The only debate is whether they'll achieve a military capacity in one year or five years. The problem for us isn't so much the risk that the Americans launch a military intervention, but rather that the Israelis consider their security to be truly threatened. The danger of a war exists. If Iran lets the IAEA conduct its inspections, I'll be willing to go to Tehran and explore a civilian nuclear cooperation. I've got the trust of the Israelis and the Americans on this question. The Americans aren't, in this case, warmongers. (Translated from the French.)

Something tells me we're going to be hearing more about that Israeli strike on a Syrian "nuclear" facility in the very near future. I've already seen some speculation linking the strike to the same intelligence source that allowed for updating the Iran NIE. Call it a Debka Files moment, but I've got a gut feeling that whatever threat was targeted in that strike, whether real or fabricated, has still got a role to play in the Iran debate.

(Via French Politics.)

Posted by Judah in:  Iran   La France Politique   The Middle East   

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