Chirac Unfazed by Nuclear Iran, Then Backtracks
By ELAINE SCIOLINO and KATRIN BENNHOLD
PARIS, Jan. 31 — President Jacques Chirac said this week that if Iran had one or two nuclear weapons, it would not pose a big danger, and that if Iran were to launch a nuclear weapon against a country like Israel, it would lead to the immediate destruction of Tehran.
The remarks, made in an interview on Monday with The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune and Le Nouvel Observateur, a weekly magazine, were vastly different from stated French policy and what Mr. Chirac has often said.
On Tuesday, Mr. Chirac summoned the same journalists back to Élysée Palace to retract many of his remarks.
Mr. Chirac said repeatedly during the second interview that he had spoken casually and quickly the day before because he believed he had been talking about Iran off the record.
“I should rather have paid attention to what I was saying and understood that perhaps I was on the record,” he said.
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