Fresh back from a week-long visit to Israel as past chair of the Canada/Israel Parliamentary group, Nanaimo-Alberni MP James Lunney said he sees Iran as a serious danger to peace in the region.
“It’s a very, very serious threat,” he said, “and the world seems unable or unwilling to deal with it.”
Lunney left for the Middle East on Sept. 29 to join a gathering of world parliamentarians organized by the Israel Allies Foundation.
The meeting, he said, was called to discuss the challenges facing Israel, including resettlement of refugees and threats from Iran.
Lunney said Canada has stood out in its stalwart support of Israel, noting the closing of the Iranian embassy on Sept. 7 showed how seriously the Canadian government takes the Iranian situation.
“There’s a number of reasons for this,” he said. “There’s Iran’s belligerence and persistence in pursuing a nuclear weapons program in spite of UN sanctions. Calling for the annihilation of a member state of the UN is just not on.”
As well, he said there are no assurances the Iranians are willing to honour the terms of the convention to protect diplomats on their turf.
The question, Lunney said, remains about how the world community will deal with the situation, likening it to what happened in Iraq in 1981.
“It was in the late 1970s that Israel was appealing to the world to pay attention to what Saddam was doing with his nuclear program and the world seemed occupied with other concerns,” Lunney said. “In 1981 Israel took out those reactors.”
Lunney noted that during the First Iraq War a total of 39 Scud missiles landed in Israel and while they did limited damage, it would have been a very different story if even one of those missiles had been armed with a nuclear warhead.
“So here we are again with Iran pursuing a nuclear program and threatening to destroy Israel,” Lunney said.
However, Lunney stressed that much care needs to be taken before any similar strike is carried out in Iran.
“It’s a high risk venture,” he said. “Just because there was success in the past, there’s no certainty it would be successful now. Look at what’s happening with Syria and Turkey, where we have a regional conflict with American troops moving into Jordan. There’s instability across the entire region and so any attack from either way has the potential to spread that instability.”
Lunney said Canada’s position has been to encourage other nations to take sanctions seriously, in order to put pressure on the Iranian regime.
Although Iran has signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, Lunney noted that Iraq had also signed it, but had been working hard to get a nuclear weapon anyway. As well, he said Israel is a responsible member of the international community, something he said Iran is not.
“The regime is unstable,” he said. “Israel is a responsible democracy. Israel is not a belligerent state or expansionist state. It has its own chunk of land it is trying to protect been threatened throughout its existence and had to fight to survive. Israel is not an irresponsible rogue state that is going to launch a pre-emptive strike without very serious concerns.”