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He described the standoff over Iran's nuclear programme as "undoubtedly the most serious crisis before us today", saying a diplomatic push to rein in Tehran was the only alternative to "the Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran." This broke with Mr Chirac, who had earlier suggested that a nuclear-armed Iran might be inevitable.
In another break with the Chirac regime, Mr Sarkozy hardened his tone against Vladimir Putin, saying Russia was using its oil and gas wealth with "brutality".