Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird speaks to reporters in Ottawa on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2014. CBC
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says he is "deeply skeptical" of the newly brokered nuclear deal with Iran and says Canada's sanctions will remain in "full force" against the country.
"We will evaluate the deal reached not just on the merits of its words but more importantly, on its verifiable implementation," Baird said at a news conference in Ottawa on Sunday.
He said that because of previous Iranian leaders had made hostile comments toward Israel, “we're deeply skeptical of the deal and the work that's brought us to this stage.”
Obama reassures Netanyahu
U.S. President Barack Obama attempted to reassure a skeptical Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday and said he wants to begin consultations with Israel immediately.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Air Force One that the two leaders reaffirmed the shared goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
"Consistent with our commitment to consult closely with our Israeli friends, the president told the prime minister that he wants the United States and Israel to begin consultations immediately regarding our effort to negotiate a comprehensive solution," Earnest said.
The agreement reached in Geneva during talks between Iran, the United States and five other world powers commits Tehran to curb its nuclear activities in exchange for limited and gradual relief from crippling economic sanctions.
Baird also said Canada will maintain sanctions against Iran. Those sanctions include:
- Restrictions on financial transactions.
- A ban on bilateral trade (worth about $135 million).
- No Iranian diplomatic representation in Canada.
"Past actions predict future actions and Iran has defied the United Nations Security Council, and simply put, Iran has not earned the right to have the benefit of the doubt," Baird said.
Baird said he would like to see Iran abandon its plutonium enrichment program altogether and to shut down all its centrifuges.
South of the border, Obama hailed the deal's provisions as key to preventing Iran from proliferating. "Simply put, they cut off Iran's most likely paths to a bomb," he said.
A White House statement said the deal limits Iran's existing stockpiles of enriched uranium, which can be turned into the fissile core of nuclear arms.
The statement also said the accord curbs the number and capabilities of the centrifuges used to enrich and limits Iran's ability to "produce weapons-grade plutonium" from a reactor in the advanced stages of construction.
In addition Iran's nuclear program will be subject to "increased transparency and intrusive monitoring."
In return, the statement promised "limited, temporary, targeted, and reversible (sanctions) relief" to Iran, noting that "the key oil, banking, and financial sanctions architecture, remains in place." And it warned that any sanctions relief will be revoked and new penalties enacted if Iran fails to meet its commitments.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry joined forces with foreign ministers of the nations negotiating with Iran to push the deal through early Sunday, as the talks entered their fifth day.
Kerry said the first-step deal will make Israel — an arch enemy of Iran — safer.
Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, who is responsible for monitoring Iran's nuclear program, said there is no reason for the world to be celebrating. He said the deal reached in Geneva is based on "Iranian deception and self-delusion."