Yep — It’s your favorite EU leader supporting Iran’s enrichment program today. You heard right !

Reuters AlertNet – Chirac pushes EU to drop hard line on Iran-diplomats: “VIENNA, April 13 (Reuters) – French President Jacques Chirac has been pushing the EU to drop its refusal to consider letting Iran enrich uranium, despite U.S. and European fears Iran could use enrichment technology for weapons, EU diplomats say.

Sharing U.S. suspicions that Iran may have atom bomb ambitions, the European Union’s three biggest powers — France, Britain and Germany — have demanded Iran give up its nuclear fuel programme in exchange for economic and political benefits.

Iran says it has no interest in the bomb and wants nuclear power plants to meet booming demand for electricity. Tehran has frozen its enrichment programme, but refuses to permanently give up what it sees as a sovereign right to produce low-enriched uranium fuel for its nuclear power programme.

The Iran-EU talks had been deadlocked over the issue of ‘objective guarantees’ that Iran’s atomic programme will not be used to make weapons, with the Europeans insisting that the only acceptable guarantee was a permanent cessation of enrichment.

But the talks took a new turn last month when negotiators from the EU’s ‘big three’ (EU3) and the office of EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana agreed in Paris to consider an Iranian proposal that it keep a small-scale enrichment programme that would be closely monitored by the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

Several diplomats said this shift — which came just after Washington bolstered the EU position by offering its own incentives if Tehran scrapped enrichment — was mainly the result of pressure by Chirac, who pushed the French Foreign Ministry to drop its refusal to consider Iran’s plan.

‘Jacques Chirac … is the one who’s taking the Iranian proposal under consideration,’ said an EU3 diplomat, adding the French president had the final say on foreign policy matters.”

Winding down Iraq… winding up Iran?? There is also speculation attributed to two prominent visits by Donald Rumsfelf to Azerbaijan that the US is building an alliance with the former Soviet republic in order to secure air base rights. Could this be the makings of an impressive strategy for containment around the Iranian Islamic Republic?
Meanwhile Sharon says Israel will not attack Iran, he is in the same breath asking the US to pressure Iran. Surely a few bases in Azerbaijan might be just what the doctor ordered. We may begin drawing troops down in Iraq within two years, but who said they would be leaving the Middle East?

So just where does our old, very old, ally France, really stand on the issue of WMD proliferation? Or should we say hide? So far they appear to be making their choice obvious. — ZZB