Barring a late reversal, on May 12 U.S. President Donald Trump will sound the death knell for the international agreement limiting Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
The consequences are so potentially profound that last week the leaders of France and Germany were in Washington to argue against the move.
On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended Mr. Trump’s inclinations, in the form of an odd PowerPoint presentation about a trove of secret, mostly old, documents he claims are proof of Iranian nuclear perfidy.
As well, Canada’s citizens keep dying in Iranian jails, and Iran has repeatedly launched cyberattacks against Canadian targets. Our country suspended formal diplomatic relations with the theocratic regime in 2012.
Against this backdrop, the recent Globe and Mail report that Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is prepared to host Iranian representatives on Canadian soil, possibly soon, might feel counterintuitive.
But Ms. Freeland’s willingness to engage Iran is the right move. Sometimes grown-ups must speak to and do business with people they don’t like.
The Iranian question is of capital global importance. Not just because of the ongoing tragedy in Syria, a key Iranian ally, but because Mr. Trump seems bent on undoing the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that has, however fitfully, contained Iranian nuclear development.
There are risks associated with getting offside with a mercurial U.S. president. But the recent appointment of noted Iran hawk John Bolton as National Security Adviser has united key Canadian NATO allies, including Britain, in a last-ditch effort to preserve the international status quo on Iran.
The JCPOA isn’t perfect, but its deficiencies are best addressed by negotiating a complementary agreement, as French President Emmanuel Macron has proposed.
Given the context, and Canada’s economic interests in Iran, it makes sense for Ottawa to take a somewhat dovish approach.
Diplomatic engagement is always preferable to estrangement. Ms. Freeland will need to step lightly, but it’s important that she try.