Last January 19, French President Jacques Chirac gave an eagerly awaited speech in Landivisiau before France’s strategic air and naval forces. Chirac’s speech, which dealt with the French nuclear doctrine, has been largely discussed and commented by international media outlets which allowed readers to find what they wanted to read about. _In the speech, mainly the western media saw the announcement of a French strategic orientation, which from that moment on, would make «terrorism-supporting countries» a potential target for nuclear attacks. That is to say, another step by France towards the Bush doctrine. But in fact, there is nothing in the President’s speech that formally guarantees the accuracy of such an interpretation, although it must not be completely disregarded.
The deterrence doctrine is based on the use of threat. It must address all with no exception and nobody in particular. Speeches on the issue generalize and abstain from making particular references. That way, such speeches may lead to countless interpretations, especially when some try, wrongfully, to interpret them as to current reality.

First of all, we must look at the part of the presidential speech which strongly drew attention: « As I pointed out shortly after the September 11, 2001 events, nuclear deterrent is not aimed at dissuading fanatical terrorists. However, the leaders of those nations, who would resort to terrorist means against us, as well as those who may consider the use, in any ways, of weapons of mass destruction, must understand that they will expose themselves to a firm and adequate response on our part. That response may be conventional, but it can also be of another kind». _As it can be proved, the French President does not announce the fact that a state which supports a terrorist action against France would face a nuclear response, but «a firm and adequate response», which can be everything or just anything. Moreover, such a «firm and adequate response» is not to be implemented against a state that may support a terrorist action, but also against a state that may consider the use of weapons of mass destruction.

Jacques Chirac also makes another two points clear: France takes the right to use nuclear weapons against a state which does not have nuclear weapons and it would attack first. _France replaces the terms conventional weapons or nuclear weapons with a new classification: classic or mass destruction weapons, which also includes chemical, bacteriological and nuclear weapons at the same level. From this point, nuclear fire may prevent or respond to a chemical or a bacteriological attack. _Above all, France openly rejects the US doctrine, the so-called «Bush-Wolfowitz», which advocates the use of atomic bombs to attack facilities of groups considered as «terrorists», such as the bases of Hamas in Syria or those of Hezbollah in Lebanon. For that reason, Jacques Chirac states that all he is doing is reaffirming France’s traditional nuclear doctrine, adapting it to current reality. _That opinion is shared by French atlantist analyst with the Foundation for Strategic Research Bruno Tertrais, in the French conservative daily Le Figaro. Tetrais welcomes the French President’s statements and, like Jacques Chirac, he points out that the military doctrine has not changed, since the point is about applying the great principles on «new threats». Therefore, the author does not tackle the issues stated on the text at all, while he only considers that Jacques Chirac has acted appropriately by recalling the usefulness of France’s deterrent forces. _France’s former socialist Prime Minister Michel Rocard is much more concerned about the statements given by Chirac. In Le Monde, he interprets them as a warning to states. which harbour terrorists. Based on this interpretation, he assures that it is a wrong policy that can not yield good results, since the countries where terrorist groups are based can not do anything, in most cases. On the other hand, their populations could feel threatened and thus strengthen terrorist groups as their defence against a hostile power.

As a consequence, he urges Jacques Chirac to withdraw his statements and instead, commit France to an international disarmament initiative along nuclear states which are signatory of the Non-proliferation Treaty. The debate that stemmed from the speech by the French President was not limited to the national media. It was largely dealt with by the international press with different interpretations. _In the Arab press, the speech is seen rather positively or with certain flexibility. _Egyptian journalist Abdel Adim Hanafi welcomes Jacques Chirac’s position in the Arabic language British newspaper Elaph. In his opinion, France’s insistence in the nuclear issue is aimed at freeing France first and Europe later from US tutelage in the military field, and push Iran to the bargaining table. This approach makes us think that the author was mainly interested in the part of the speech, in which Chirac asserts that France has got rid of pressures by the other big powers thanks to its nuclear program. However, it is not clear yet where such an independence lies if we take into account that the French President has directly threatened Iran, thus following the US strategic interest. No doubts that in this article, Jacques Chirac is benefited by the indulgent treatment of the western leader who rejected the invasion of Iraq, disregarding the re-alignment of France with Washington’s position in the cases of Haiti, Syria and then Iran.

In the Iraqi newspaper Newsabah, the editorialist of the Arabic language Lebanese daily Assafir, Joseph Samaha, considers the French President’s attitude as normal in the international context. The world is undergoing increasing instability and it will face a destabilizing economic crisis very soon. Therefore, France shows its nuclear potential and threatens in order to gain strength in the international arena, which is a logical attitude. In La Padania, the paper of the extreme-right secessionist Italian movement, La Liga del Norte, its leader Umberto Bossi is not alarmed either about the statements of the French President, but he appears to be much more sarcastic than Arab analysts. In a despising manner, he sees in Chirac’s statements the continuity of his opposition to the war in Iraq. In 2002 and 2003, Jacques Chirac did not looked for peace with the same impetus he insisted in the importance of France for the world, and now, his most recent statements pursue that same objective: revealing that France counts on the concert of nations. Former Government Minister Berlusconi considers that, at present, Jacques Chirac has chosen to exist by means of the threat against Iran. This interpretation of a masked threat against Teheran is widely shared by the international press, particularly by the Iranian press.

That way, the Teheran Times, in an unsigned editorial and which involves the whole paper staff, is concerned about the statements of the French President. The paper reads in the speech a rapprochement by Paris of Washington’s strategic options and it gets alarmed at noticing that France is willing to use its weapons in a preventive way against a non-nuclear state. Without openly stating it, the daily fears that the President addresses Iran in his speech and it expresses concern on: Why does France, committed to oppose the war in Iraq, adopt a nuclear doctrine close to that of the United States and why does it appear so threatening? In the Washington Times, lawyer, novelist and US neoconservative propagandist Alan Topol says he has the answer to that question: the violent actions that occurred in French suburbs had the same impact on the French strategic thinking as that of the September 11, 2001 attempts in the United States! He assures that the speech marks a turning point for France. By asserting through the quotes of Jean-Marie Le Pen (presented as a French diplomat) that France has known a civil war orchestrated by the Arab states and Iran, he says that the country then understood the proportion of the «yihadist» threat and is now determined to follow the United States in a joint bombardment of Iran along with the German and the British.

In the same daily, the director of the pro-Moon daily Arnaud de Borchgrave presents an analysis which is radically different and less prone to fantasizing, indeed. He regrets the statements given by the French President. He thinks that Jacques Chirac only said those words only to justify the French nuclear budget in the eyes of public opinion, but that no nuclear goal may be technically considered among the countries that could match the picture which the commentator identifies in the presidential speech. For Borchgrave, the only two possible targets are Syria and Iran. If Syria were reached by a nuclear missile it would be erased from the map and, if it that were the case of Iran, oil prices would skyrocket to 200 dollars. In all, it is not desirable. But even so, this speech is not going to favour relations and negotiations with Teheran, it will make Iran to equip itself with a nuclear deterrent force as well. The spokesperson of the French diplomacy on his part recalled that the President’s speech mentioned a general doctrine and did not point towards any state in particular and, for sure it did not point towards Iran.