Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee
Nuclear Weapons in Iran

Hon. Hugh Segal:

Honourable senators, my question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of new reports in the American and British press that Israel’s Prime Minister visited the Russian capital on September 7 to inform Russian leadership of solid intelligence confirming the presence of Russian nuclear scientists and experts in Iran to help with nuclear weaponization, and in view of a report circulating to the effect that the International Atomic Energy Agency has data suggesting that Iran is not only more advanced but may have, in fact, sufficient fissionable material to construct a bomb, could the Leader of the Government in the Senate share with the chamber and Canadians where our government is on this issue, the increasing risk, and our support for Canadian allies and trading partners, including the Gulf Cooperation Council and Israel?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State (Seniors)):

I wish to thank the Honourable Senator Segal for that question. This is a serious matter.

The government believes that the revelation of Iran ‘s covert uranium enrichment facility is completely shocking and unacceptable. The government has condemned Iran ‘s continued and deliberate disregard for the UN Security Council resolutions and the IAEA requirements.

Having said that, we recognize Iran ‘s compliance to allow IAEA to access all its sites and we expect them to fully cooperate. We expect that there will be a full investigation.

As the honourable senator knows, Canada has in place restrictions to limit relations with Iran under the Tightened Controlled Engagement Policy. We have been active at the IAEA, the G8 and elsewhere, in urging Iran to fully respect its nuclear non-proliferation obligations.

Senator Segal:

Could the minister take as notice whether or not Canada is preparing a sanction regime and, if necessary, to deploy forces to the region should the UN or our NATO allies request Canadian support to keep the Strait of Hormuz open to global shipping?

Senator LeBreton:

Hopefully, that question is somewhat premature. As the honourable senator knows, the Prime Minister, along with President Obama, Prime Minister Brown, President Sarkozy and our other allies, has been clear that Canada will be supportive of whatever actions are necessary to deal with this threat, which is a serious threat to international peace and security. At the moment, honourable senators, I believe that the government will pursue a diplomatic approach to this situation.

Hopefully, Iran will comply with the IAEA and we will not have to contemplate or entertain a scenario such as the honourable senator suggests.