French Nuclear Doctrine & Iran
Recent changes to French nuclear doctrine and the timing of Jacquez Chirac's comments- despite the carefully chosen language which according to the media was “directed at Iran”- suggests a realistic French view on international relations. (Oh and by the way Chirac did not mention ANY countries in his speech: http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/01/20/news/france.php .
The crisis in Iran has little to do with their Nuclear ambitions, and more to do with their potential to become a major global economic//political & military contender(which nuclear power would allow them to do), important enough to compete with the USA, Europe & Russia politically after the inevitable descent of US "superpower" status.
If you look at Iran’s recent diversification of energy deals and military arrangements with Russia, China and India you will come to understand the truly overbearing level of importance Iran plays in modern global politics. (Russia&Iran military deal, China & Iran sign $70bn gas deal, India signs mega gas deal with Iran)
Foremost Iran is currently the main player in the future of the Middle Eastern oil market. This is due to two main factors obviously one of these is the problem of stability in Iraq which is as always unpredictable.
The second question is how long the current Saudi friendship with the West can truly last.
Saudi royals are set for internal conflict with Salafi extremists particularly the Bin-Laden family; the only Saudi family with religious prestige, sufficient arms and economical importance to question the Royal family over their US-leanings.
Iran, in order to ensure its own future has recently begun striking out long-term sale contracts with competitors in the oil market other than the USA. By reaching deals of huge economic importance with China the Irani regime has quite effectively backed the USA against a wall in regard to any invasion attempt.
If the USA were to undertake an invasion of Iran or endanger vital oil infrastructure at time of such a huge growth in Chinese oil-demand and consumption this could prompt a Chinese military intervention to protect the availability of oil to their market.
This would also anger oil-rich Latin American nations who recently signed self-preservation treaties with Iran, most notably Venezuela and Cuba, whose combined military might poses a huge threat to US interests in South America. Not to mention the threat of an “turning off the tap” supplying oil to the US from Venezuela (25% of all US oil consumption comes from directly from Venezuela, despite their ideological differences). So a US-lead invasion (independent of the UN) is out of the question.
On the other hand there is the possibility of a unilateral Israeli air-strike, which is inline with long-defined Israeli defence policy of preventative strikes against potential nuclear facilities.
It is probable that by the time any Security Council (UN)sanctions were implemented and actually began to have the desired effect on Iran’s economy (given the huge underground oil grids between Iran, Russia and other previously Soviet nations) they would have completed the required research to produce a nuclear weapon. (and that’s assuming they haven’t already).
Thus it is safe to assume any Israeli strike would come amidst or prior to United Nations sanctions, against UN policy. This would very quickly isolate Israel from its traditionally sympathetic western supporters and in particular its European neighbours.
Any Israeli attempt to bomb Iran could not easily be done under-the-nose of the USA, or without Washington’s moral (if not public) support for such an action.
Firstly to get to Iran from Israel you need a clear flight-path, and if the US air force is not game to fly through Turkish airspace without explicit permission I assume any Israeli fly over of Turkish air-space is out of the question.
Turkey has recently shared (relatively) good relations with Iran and would not allow such an Israeli strike, so the options for a unilateral Israeli air-strike are extremely limited. There is no chance of legal Israeli flight through Jordanian or Syrian air-space and any illegal over-flight would spark serious retaliation from Arab nations and possibly another Israeli//Arab war.
Then there is Saudi Arabia a huge military power just south and east of Israel, but close enough to intercept any attempt to fly directly from Israel to Iran- and Saudi doctrine in regard to Israel is very blunt; they are infidels. Get the picture?
So what are Israel’s options for striking Iran with US support? This opens things up a little. Since the USA is Israel’s main supplier of military aircraft a large Israeli purchase could be arranged to take place in Iraq, and Israeli pilots snuck into Iraq in civilian aircraft to pilot said aircraft.
The pilots could then man freshly purchased US air force planes leaving from an Iraqi or Persian Gulf air-base for their strike in Iran without having to fly over hostile territory. Reminiscent of when Egyptian pilots manned Soviet aircraft on revenge campaigns during the cold-war.
Any strike against Iran is likely to have serious repercussions particularly one against the will of the United Nations. An Israeli unilateral surgical strike would throw the region into all out war and hugely disrupt oil supplies to western nations until the state of Israel was completely obliterated. If Iran has truly been developing a nuclear bomb then we must also consider the chance they already have one, so retaliation could be swift and catastrophic for Israel.
Under redefined French nuclear doctrine the first serious sign of an imminent Israeli attempt at surgical strikes inside Iran could prompt a French nuclear response.
This would bring France back into play as an international political power for the first time since their defeat in WWII.
This is why I believe Jacquez Chirac’s recent announcements were not solely aimed at Iran or any other “rogue nation” like the media has been suggesting. French nuclear doctrine since the 1994 Defense White Paper has always called for a nuclear deterrent incase of threat against France’s “vital interests”. (Nuclear Policy: France stands alone, A French Nuclear exception, Defense White Paper)
Just recently the definition of “vital interests” in regard to French nuclear doctrine has been expanded to include oil supply. Anyone threatening French oil supply will be attacked with sufficient nuclear force targeting the adversary's "vital centers" causing damage equal to or greater than the potential damage to French vital interests as a deterrent. If the offender in question does not desist French nuclear doctrine then allows for the total destruction of their adversaries economic, political and military centres.
In other words if Israel threatens nuclear action against Iran or undertakes a surgical strike that turns to war, in-line with French nuclear doctrine the Israeli military would be immediately maimed by French strategic nuclear strikes, possibly preventing or possibly accelerating any breakout of another Arab/Israeli conflict.
So who were Chirac’s words really aimed at? The USA? Iran? China? Russia? Israel?
Personally I don’t think there was one particular target, I think it was a general warning. Chirac is telling the world he will not allow another World War Three to be started by any arrogant nation with WMD pushing around other nations. That includes Israel, it includes Russia, China, Iran and the U.S.A