Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ukraine Crisis Sending Message to Iran It Must Have Nukes: Dutch Minister

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ukraine Crisis Sending Message to Iran It Must Have Nukes: Dutch Minister

Article excerpt

Ukraine crisis telling Iran to get nukes


OTTAWA - The Ukraine crisis is sending a message to rogue states such as Iran that they must have nuclear weapons, the visiting foreign minister of the Netherlands said Friday.

Frans Timmermans told an audience in Ottawa that the cause of nuclear non-proliferation has been set back by the Ukraine crisis, triggered when Russia opted to "simply steal" part of the country.

Timmermans delivered that message in a hard-hitting breakfast speech and question-and-answer session to a small audience of diplomats, government officials and foreign policy experts.

Ukraine eliminated all of its nuclear weapons in a 1994 agreement in exchange for Russia, Britain and the United States respecting the territorial integrity of the country.

Russia, meanwhile, has annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula while pro-Russian gunmen are taking control of cities in the country's east.

"Just imagine what a message this is to Iran: hey, if you give up nuclear weapons, you're at the mercy of those who still have them," Timmermans said.

"It's a horrible message. Just imagine. You have seen the actions of North Korea since."

U.S. researchers have found signs of increased activity at a North Korean nuclear test site, while South Korea warned last week that its totalitarian communist neighbour is readying itself for its fourth nuclear test blast since 2006.

The West, meanwhile, is trying to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions. There is currently hope that talks between Tehran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany might lead to a historic agreement by an upcoming July deadline.

Timmermans said Russia's aggression against Ukraine could be sending a much different message to Iran.

"I believe the only answer to this very negative message ... is for the most responsible nations, the P5 -- especially Russia -- to open up to the possibility of talks on nuclear disarmament," he said.

"I think that is of the essence. …

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