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Iran Letter

Science for Peace sees great danger in the attack on 3 January by American forces on a senior Iranian official, Qassem Soleimani. The strike was decided by the President abruptly, without consulting allies, or his own government. The drone killing of Gen. Soleimani on Iraqi soil was more than simple murder, it was armed aggression against both Iran and Iraq.

For years now President Trump has threatened massive use of force against Iran. His unprovoked, unilateral repudiation of the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, under which Iran was restricting its development of nuclear fuel, has opened the danger of yet another country joining the nuclear-armed ranks. What is the duty of Canada when its closest ally acts with such unbridled belligerence?Read More

There is no treaty obligation to stand with a power —-not a NATO power, not even a close ally—- when it conducts bloody adventures in a distant land. The United States, not being under attack, has no basis for demanding we come to its aid.

On the contrary, Canada is bound to follow the Charter of the United Nations, which declares (Article 2) that wars of aggression are the supreme crime, and (Article 3) that member state shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means, so that peace and security and justice are not endangered. The UN Charter is an anti-war document. Article 24 gives the SC ‘primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.” But even the Security Council has limits on its power; the second paragraph provides that ‘in discharging these duties the Security Council shall act in accordance with the purpose and Principles of the United Nations”. Thus Canada’s primary treaty obligation is to resist armed aggression.

This coincides with its moral obligation, and with its loyalty to the United Kingdom, France, and other NATO countries—- indeed, to all countries, including the United States. We call on the Government of Canada to make these priorities clear to the world.

In particular, at a time when military escalation, including even a nuclear strike, is repeatedly threatened implicitly and sometimes explicitly, it is important that Canada take a clear stand for diplomacy, resolution of differences, and restraint.

In the anxiety created by the American threats, an Iranian defensive battery on the 8th of January fired a surface-to-air missile bringing down a Ukrainian airliner which had just taken off from Tehran. This terrible error, for which those responsible have expressed intense remorse, was a grievous blow. The mourning unites Canada with Iran, in that so many of those killed were Iranian-Canadians en route to Canada; indeed, 57 were Canadian citizens. The mourning is first-hand in our case, as one of the victims was Mohamad Elyasi, an active young member of Science for Peace. May these casualties of this undeclared and undesired war be the last.

Judith Deutsch, President

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