March 1, 2009

Iran is evil, says Stephen Harper

CANADA/POLITICS - The ideology of the Iranian government is "evil", said Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper yesterday.

Harper accused Iran of covertly seeking to build nuclear weapons. Iran denies the charge. Iran recently finished building its 1st nuclear plant, which it called a boost to Iran's environmental record.

"It concerns me that we have a regime with both an ideology that is obviously evil, combined with a desire to procure technology to act on that ideology," Harper said. "My government is a very strong supporter of the state of Israel and considers the Iranian threats to be absolutely unacceptable and beyond the pale."

Canada's relations with Iran have been strained since 2003, when Iranian-Canadian photographer Zahra Kazemi died in custody in Tehran after being arrested.

Harper also complained that Russia has been testing Canadian airspace in the Arctic more frequently, "an aggression that is increasingly troublesome." On February 19th Canadian fighter planes scrambled to intercept two Russian bombers less than 24 hours before United States President Barack Obama's visit to Ottawa.

Harper also said the NATO mission in Afghanistan is a serious test of its military alliance. "We have to get our act together ... or NATO will not be able to undertake these kinds of missions in the future. There may be some around the NATO table who don't think it should. But if that's their position, that's not what they are saying."

Canada still has about 2,700 soldiers in Kandahar in southern Afghanistan on a mission that is due to end in 2011. There have been 108 Canadian soldiers killed in the conflict so far.

Obama's decision to increase troop numbers in Afghanistan will certainly help.

"I would encourage the (Obama) administration to really assess what its objectives are and to make sure they are realistic and achievable," he said.

Unlike George W. Bush who bit off more than he could chew.

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