Chirac opposing war whit Iran. They said he did not know what he spoke about. It seemed he knew very well

Nuclear-armed Iran would not be very dangerous, says Chirac

The French president’s comments to journalists prompted speculation as to whether, aged 74 and in the waning months of his second – and probably his last term – he was losing his political touch or even his mental vigour. Some also questioned whether Mr Chirac had simply voiced a fear that a nuclear-armed Iran would be a foregone conclusion.

Mr Chirac prides himself on being an international statesman and is popular in France for his stance against the war in Iraq. He is determined to prove himself on the world stage before the April and May elections, but the international community was astounded by his comments which appeared on US front pages.

In the interview on Monday, which was mainly about climate change, reporters from the International Herald Tribune, The New York Times and the French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur asked Mr Chirac about the current impasse over Iran’s nuclear development.

Paris has steadfastly opposed any attempt by Iran to develop nuclear weapons, with Mr Chirac recently accusing Tehran of “feeding the world’s apprehension” with its atomic programme.