Editorial cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday July 15, 2015
Iran after a nuclear deal: Where will Canada stand?
Iran and the P5+1 – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, or the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany – finally reached a deal on Tuesday resolving the long-standing dispute over Iran’s nuclear ambitions. This raises questions for Canada, which has displayed a particularly aggressive stance toward Iran in recent years.
The Harper government’s hostility toward Tehran has been based on the premise, frequently expressed by the Prime Minister and senior ministers, that Iran poses the greatest threat to international peace and security. The government has nuanced this assessment recently, labelling Iran a “significant” threat to international security, presumably reflecting growing concern about the Islamic State and Russia. Nevertheless, it remains that Canada has differentiated itself from its allies under the Conservatives, adopting a harder line against Iran.
Concretely, this has meant that to protest against Iran’s nuclear program, human rights record, and confrontational regional policies, Canada has implemented all UN sanctions against Iran and has vocally adopted additional unilateral measures. In multilateral settings, Canadian diplomats repeatedly and assertively lambaste Iran. Ottawa also severed diplomatic relations in 2012.
As nuclear talks progressed over the past two years, Canada remained deeply skeptical of Iranian intentions and insisted that only tangible actions would prove Iran’s commitment to restraining its nuclear program. Canada also systematically emphasized that human rights had not improved under President Hassan Rouhani and that Iran’s support for terrorism across the Middle East continues unabated.
This aggressive policy towards Iran has been based on a flawed premise, has had a marginal impact, and has resulted in few measurable benefits. (Continued: Globe & Mail)