Chirac offers nuclear deterrent to EU partners
Hours before French nuclear testing was due to start in the Pacific, President Jacques Chirac said yesterday that France would be willing to make its nuclear deterrent part of a European Union defence system if that was wanted in the future.
He also called on French diplomacy to go on to the offensive to "explain, explain and explain indefatigably" France's position on nuclear testing "in the belief that finally, reason will overcome emotion".
Mr Chirac was addressing French ambassadors from all over the world gathered in Paris for a three-day conference. The gathering was convened shortly after Mr Chirac announced his decision to resume nuclear testing starting today and is taking as its theme the nuclear issue.
The President made a forceful defence of France's nuclear deterrent - which, he said, had "retained all its sense" - and his own decision on tests. Appearing to address criticism that he had mistimed the decision and underestimated the damage his decision would do to France abroad, Mr Chirac's insisted that he had been aware of the likely consequences and "had taken personal responsibility for them". The situation he had inherited, he said, had left him no choice about whether, or when, to resume testing.
On the question of "Europeanisation", Mr Chirac said: "As it builds its defence, the EU could want the French deterrent to play a role in its security. When that moment comes, France will embark on an initiative on this with its principal partners."
In announcing France's willingness to consider sharing its nuclear deterrent, Mr Chirac was giving his name to a proposal that has been floated in recent weeks by his prime minister, Alain Juppe, and his foreign minister, Herve de Charette, without any significant international response. The exact terms of such a project, however, have not been spelt out.
It is not known, for instance, whether it would mean sharing technology and facilities (and the expense), whether other European countries would be given a say in when the weapons were used, or whether it simply means that the EU would be protected by the French "nuclear umbrella" - a situation that differs little from the present one.
Gay couple beaten in park urge MPs to moderate language on gay marriage
Strewth mate. Aussies wave goodbye to Britain as it becomes too pricey to stay
World news in pictures
X marks the spot: The find that could rewrite Australian history
Oklahoma tornado: Children trapped in wreckage and at least 91 dead after massive storm rips through suburbs
- 2 Tottenham to smash pay scale with £150,000-a-week contract in attempt to tie Gareth Bale to club
- 3 Austerity has hardened the nation's heart
- 4 Gay couple beaten in park urge MPs to moderate language on gay marriage
- 5 Why Arsène Wenger must spend to put icing on the cake and buy likes of Stevan Jovetic for Arsenal
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.
£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: The job will include writing ...
£28000 - £34000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...
£250 - £300 per annum: Progressive Recruitment: Front end Developer - Havant -...
Negotiable: Randstad Education London: An Ofsted graded good school are lookin...