Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to visit Canada (TORONTO STAR) Bruce Campion-Smith OTTAWA, CANADA 02/20/12)
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OTTAWA—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will visit with
Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Canada on March 2, as tensions in
the Middle East continue to rise over Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
The visit comes as speculation grows whether Israel will mount a pre-
emptive military strike to derail Iran’s nuclear weapons development
in defiance of stiff economic sanctions and international
Netanyahu is certain to get a warm reception from Harper and the
Conservative cabinet, who have declared that Canada stands as a
staunch backer of Israel on the world stage. And on the question of
Iran, Netanyahu will find a close ally in Harper, who has said the
country’s drive to develop nuclear weapons and its leadership
represent a serious threat to world security.
“Their statements imply to me no hesitation about using nuclear
weapons if they see them achieving their religious or political
purposes. And . . . I think that’s what makes this regime in Iran
particularly dangerous,” Harper told the CBC last month.
Other countries are urging caution, saying that sanctions and
diplomatic efforts should be given more time to deter Iran. Canada
imposed yet more sanctions against Iran at the end of January.
Netanyahu’s visit could also be the backdrop for Harper to announce
his own visit to Israel. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty visited Israel earlier this month.
Meanwhile, in Iran, UN nuclear inspectors starting a two-day visit to
Tehran on Monday sought to meet Iranian nuclear scientists and visit
a key military facility as they try to gauge allegations that Iran is
pushing toward making an atomic weapon.
The trip is the second in less than a month by the International
Atomic Energy Agency team, reflecting growing concerns over alleged
weapons experiments — something Iran has so far both denied and
refused to discuss.
The trip came as Iran announced air defence war games to practice
protecting nuclear and other sensitive sites, the latest in a series
of military manoeuvres viewed as a message to the West that Iran is
prepared both to defend itself against an armed strike and to
Iran’s state radio said Monday the IAEA inspectors hope to meet
Iranian nuclear scientists and visit the Parchin military complex.
The report said the IAEA had requested to visit Parchin, an Iranian
military base and conventional weapons development facility outside
of Tehran. The site has also been suspected of housing a secret
underground facility used for Iran’s nuclear program, a claim denied
by Iranian authorities.
IAEA inspectors visited the site in 2005, but went to only one of
four areas of potential interest within the grounds. At the time, the
nuclear watchdog did not report any unusual activities but the
Parchin site was prominently mentioned in the agency’s report last
The IAEA visit comes as Iran last week announced what it described as
key advancements in its nuclear program, inserting the first
domestically made fuel rod into a research reactor in Tehran and
installing a new generation of Iranian-made centrifuges at the
country’s main uranium enrichment facility in the central town of
Natanz. With files from Associated Press (© Copyright Toronto Star
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