Canada's response to nuclear deal 'unnecessarily hostile': former ambassador
Published Monday, November 25, 2013 8:53AM EST
Last Updated Monday, November 25, 2013 6:10PM EST
The former Canadian ambassador to Iran says Canada's reaction to a historic deal that will see that nation curb its nuclear activities in exchange for some sanction relief is "unnecessarily hostile."
John Mundy said the interim deal struck between Iran and six world powers over the weekend is good news for the international community.
"For a very long time Iran and the international community have been locked in a cycle of escalation," he told CTV's Canada AM on Monday. "One side increases sanctions, the other side increases their nuclear program, and unless both sides agree to step back that eventually would lead to a confrontation."
“The tone of Canada's reaction to this interim agreement was unnecessarily hostile," Mundy said. "But in substance I think we're probably a little closer the United States and Europeans than we are to Israel.”
Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Sunday the Canadian government remains "deeply skeptical" of Iran’s ability to honour the newly-brokered deal, and Ottawa will make its evaluation based on actions, not words.
During Question Period Monday, Baird said he believes all Canadians want to see a solution to Iran's nuclear program, but reiterated his concerns.
"We would support any reasonable measure that actually sees Iran take concrete steps back from its nuclear program, and regrettably we don't have a lot of confidence or a lot of trust with the regime in Tehran," he said.
Until then, Canada will stick to economic sanctions.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the breakthrough deal a “historic mistake.”
Eliaz Luf, the deputy Israeli ambassador to Canada, told CTV's Power Play that the agreement is something Israel cannot tolerate, saying it does nothing to significantly rollback any of Iran's nuclear capabilities.
"In general, if the Iranians want to withdraw from the agreement or to disobey it, and the regime decides to develop the bomb, the regime can do it very easily,” he said. “On the other hand, right now they enjoy the lift off of some of the sanctions which gives some oxygen to the economy.”
But a number of other world leaders said it was an important step for international security.
"We're prepared to accept this interim agreement, provided that Iran actually implements it faithfully. That's not very different from what the United States and Europeans want," Mundy said.
The interim deal between Iran and the United States, France, Russia, China and the United Kingdom– the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – and Germany, was struck early Sunday morning in Geneva.
It will see Iran keep its uranium enrichment, which is the process of converting concentrated uranium into nuclear fuel, at no higher than 5 per cent – well below the 90 per cent threshold needed for weapons-grade material.
The deal also calls for the country to dilute its stockpile of 20 per cent uranium over the next six months, and give UN nuclear inspectors daily access to enrichments sites.
"This all makes it harder for Iran to cheat and make a dash for the bomb," Mundy said.
For its part, the six world powers will ease some economic sanctions and hold off any new nuclear-related sanctions for at least six-months. The deal also opens up $4.2 billion from oil sales to be transferred in installments over the next six months as various compliance stages are reached.
Mundy said while the nuclear agreement was a "very big deal", much more difficult talks are in store for both parties if a more comprehensive treaty is to be reached.
The current deal will last for six months, while a permanent agreement is sought.
Gordon Edwards, president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, said tough negotiations are ahead, as the majority of parties involved in the current agreement possess nuclear weapons.
"Five of those countries have their own nuclear weapons," Edwards said. "Iran's position is, 'Look India has nuclear weapons, Pakistan has nuclear weapons, Israel has nuclear weapons, you guys have nuclear weapons and you're telling us we can't enrich uranium?'"