Thursday

27th Feb 2020

Chirac: France would use nuclear arms if attacked

French president Jacques Chirac has warned France could use nuclear arms if attacked by a state or state-supported terrorist group.

Speaking at a nuclear base in Brittany (France), Mr Chirac said "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."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

He added that such a response could be a conventional one, but "It could also be of a different kind."

Analysts point out that it is the first time the French leader has linked the possibility of the country's nuclear response to a terrorist attack, arguing that it means a policy change.

France and Britain are the only two EU countries holding an independent nuclear deterrent, while Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Turkey, which is on the waiting list to join the bloc, are hosting US nuclear weapons on their territory.

The French nuclear arms programe was ordered in 1960 by Charles de Gaulle, and it has been scaled down to around 350 nuclear weapons after the end of Cold War, according to BBC.

Tensions over Iran looming

Mr Chirac's statement comes amid growing tensions over Iran's resumed nuclear activities.

While Tehran claims it wants to use the enrichment project purely for research and the production of energy, the international community fears it could be used for developing nuclear weapons.

The UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is scheduled to hold an emergency meeting on the issue in two weeks (2 February).

The US and the EU trio - Britain, Germany and France - are considering to press for Iran's referral to the Security Council at the meeting, while Russia and China are still reluctant to support such a move.

Beijing called on the EU to return to negotiations with Tehran, cancelled after the Islamic country broke the UN seals on uranium enrichment equipment earlier this month, while also pressing on Iran to halt its nucleal activities.

UN secretary general Kofi Annan has also urged the world's leaders to push for a diplomatic solution at the IAEA level.

WHO on coronavirus in Europe: 'be prepared'

The European Commission also urged EU member states to review their pandemic plans and to inform it about their healthcare capabilities in response to the outbreak.

Frontex hits activist pair with €24,000 legal bill

Two pro-transparency campaigners received a €23,700 bill from the EU's border agency Frontex after having lost a court case. Frontex's budget for 2020 is €460m. The campaigners refuse to pay, saying the agency doesn't need the money.

'Fragmented' Slovakia goes to polls amid corruption woes

Saturday's elections in Slovakia could herald the rise of the far-right People's Party Our Slovakia, or the emergence of a populist anti-corruption candidate, in a country wracked by mistrust since the assassination two years ago of an investigative journalist.

Opinion

EU development policy needs a fresh start

As the European Commission meets the African Union in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on Thursday, prior to a new EU-Africa strategy, the obsolete donor-recipient mentality must be junked, writes European Parliament development committee chairman Tomas Tobé MEP.

Feature

Coronavirus: voices from a quarantined Italian town

Panic-buying, plus resentment at the media for fuelling the panic, are the paradoxical responses of residents of the Italian towns of Vicenza and Vo', where Italy's first victim of the coronavirus died last Friday.

Greek island riots require measured response, says EU

Residents on the Greek islands of Lesbos and Chios have been met with riot police, following protests against plans to erect new migrant detention camps. The European Commission says measures by Athens' authorities must be "necessary and proportionate."

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  2. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December

Latest News

  1. WHO on coronavirus in Europe: 'be prepared'
  2. Frontex hits activist pair with €24,000 legal bill
  3. Turkish jets keep violating Greek airspace
  4. 'Fragmented' Slovakia goes to polls amid corruption woes
  5. EU development policy needs a fresh start
  6. EU critical of China on Swedish dissident publisher
  7. NGOs urge EU to tackle meat consumption 'problem'
  8. Coronavirus: voices from a quarantined Italian town

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us