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Jacques Chirac Watch: France Will Respond to Terrorism with Nukes

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French President Jacques Chirac delivers a speech at the Elysee Palace in France January 9, 2006. In a speech defending France’s costly nuclear deterrent and toughening policy against terrorism, President Chirac said Paris must be able to hit back hard at a hostile state’s centers of power and its ‘capacity to act’.

Reuters: France defends right to nuclear reply to terrorism

France said on Thursday it would be ready to use nuclear weapons against any state that carried out a terrorist attack against it, reaffirming the need for its nuclear deterrent.

Deflecting criticism of France’s costly nuclear arms program,
President Jacques Chirac said security came at a price and France must be able to hit back hard at a hostile state’s centers of power and its “capacity to act.”

He said there was no change in France’s overall policy, which rules out the use of nuclear weapons in a military conflict. But his speech pointed to a change of emphasis to underline the growing threat France perceives from terrorism.

“The leaders of states who would use terrorist means against us, as well as those who would consider using in one way or another weapons of mass destruction, must understand that they would lay themselves open to a firm and adapted response on our part,” Chirac said during a visit to a nuclear submarine base in northwestern France.

“This response could be a conventional one. It could also be of a different kind.”

Chirac, who is commander-in-chief of the armed forces, said all of France’s nuclear forces had been configured with the new strategy in mind and the number of nuclear warheads on French nuclear submarines had been reduced to allow targeted strikes.

It was the first time he had so clearly linked the threat of a nuclear response to a terrorist attack.

Chirac, 73, did not say whether France would be prepared to use pre-emptive strikes against a country it saw as a threat.

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