In the wake of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) recently issued report that raised alarm bells over suspected military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program, media coverage, both international and Canadian, has brought forward reportage and commentary analyzing the sabre-rattling, potential for pre-emptive attacks, and the effectiveness of sanctions.
With the spectre of a nuclear Iran on the horizon, this journalism has the potential to make a profound impact on the next steps our elected officials may take to prevent Iran from developing atomic weapons and emboldening a regional nuclear arms race. As we all know, what is reported by our media today may become foreign policy tomorrow.
With the stakes increasingly high, we expect our media to provide informed sober analysis and to not be partisan advocates for the Iranian regime. Leave it to our public broadcaster, the CBC, to come to the quick defence of Iran. On
November 21, CBC Radio host Carol Off (pictured right) of the As It Happens program interviewed Chris Alexander; Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Defence on the IAEA report and Canada’s recently announced sanctions on Iran. In what can only be described as theatre of the absurd, Off posed the following line of questions to Alexander suggesting possible excuses for Iran’s illegal nuclear program:
Off:“Given that Iran is next to a nuclear power being Israel, is there any way you can look at Iran’s possible development of nuclear weapons as a defensive act and not as an act of provocation?”
To listen to this interview in full pleaseclick here and proceed to the 10-minute mark of this CBC podcast or on the image below.
Alexander quickly retorted that “Well, it’s illegal no matter how you slice the issue. It’s a violation of their international obligations which the IAEA has done its very best to ensure Iran is upholding and which Iran complains to be upholding, we can all speculate about their motives for wanting to have one and we have seen countries acquire nuclear weapons in the past outside of the non-proliferation framework, but for a variety of reasons, because of its human rights record at home, because of its backing of extremists elsewhere in the Middle East, because of its efforts to undermine regional security in a variety of countries, Iran having such a weapon would be a serious threat to international peace and security.”
Carol Off seemed unsatisfied with Alexander’s answer and again persisted by using Israel as a diversionary tactic:
Off: “Is it legal for Israel to have nuclear weapons?”
Alexander seemedquite taken aback by Off’s questions to the point where he replied: “I don’t recall Israel’s security posture being part of our discussion today. Israel is a democracy. Israel has had to have a robust defense force to look after its own interests in the face of countries like Iran that challenge its very existence and Carol, let’s not take this lightly. Iran is a country of 70,000,000 people many of whom are suffering at the hands of their regime and Iran’s neighbours are scared of what Iran with a nuclear weapon might be able to do and that includes Israel whose right to exist, I hope we all defend and recognize.”
Indeed, irrespective of whether or not Israel possesses nuclear weapons, a matter which Off claims to conclusively know, it’s simply absurd to equate democratic Israel with the terror-supporting, Holocaust-denying theocratic Iranian regime. Israel has never tested, used or threatened the use of nuclear weapons, has called for the creation of a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East and has stated many times that it will not be the first state to introduce nuclear weapons into the region. Israel also isn’t a signatory to the non-proliferation treaty, and so it isn’t bound by the IAEA. Furthermore, Israel is not “next to” Iran unless you consider that its terror proxies (Hamas and Hezbollah) are strategically placed in Gaza and Lebanon to menace the Jewish state.
We are used to hearing apologists for Iran claim that its nuclear program was for “peaceful purposes only” but now, vis-à-vis Carol Off’s comments, Iran’s possible development of nuclear weapons is being argued as “a defensive act and not as an act of provocation.” If Iran is trying to procure nuclear weapons for self-defence purposes, there has to have been an act of provocation or a threat by Israel or other nations against Iran to prompt this posture. As the United States and France have nuclear weapons, are we to deduce from Off’s comments that their nuclear arsenals are “provocative” acts? Why then does Off not question the “legal” dimensions of their nuclear weapons programs?
This wasn’t an isolated incident for Off. On May 23, 2007, she interviewed Henry Sokolski, Executive Director of the Non-Proliferation Policy Education Center, also on the topic of an IAEA report which at the time had concluded that Iran hadn’t scrapped its nuclear program. Off again sought fit to present Iran as the defenseless victim and Israel as the bellicose victimizer. She argued: “… Iran feels it must have these [nuclear weapons] because it’s afraid for whatever reason” and that “… if it’s wrong for [Iran] to have [nuclear weapons], if it’s wrong for anyone to have [them], then why do we continue to not challenge Israel for its program?” Sokolski, just like Alexander, seemed perturbed by Off’s questions to the point where he felt it was necessary to “rebut” her flawed thesis. Sokolski argued that even Iranian leaders don’t endorse her sentiments and aren’t afraid, “Rather, they say, ‘Why shouldn’t we have these?'”
What is patently clear is that Carol Off and the CBC would like to steer current conversations about the international community being united against Iran’s nuclear weapons program, to one of a predominantly isolated conflict between Israel and Iran. A narrative where the real international pariah and global menace was Israel, not Iran. Amazingly, the CBC has used Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons as another stick to beat Israel with. Talk about chutzpah!