Statement made on 14 December 2009 by Senator Jerahmiel Grafstein (retired)
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein:
I thank all honourable senators, particularly Senator Cools, Senator Di Nino and Senator Jaffer. I thank Senator Jaffer for her kind remarks. I appreciate her staunch support for the issues we have shared fighting for human rights, not only against anti-Semitism, but also persecution of Christians, Jews, and the persecution of the Baha'i that I think take place in Iran today, which goes to the heart of the subject matter of this debate.
I support Senator Di Nino's amendment, because I think it gives the motion greater strength.
I also thank Senator Segal, who brought this matter to my attention in an acute way and urged me to move on this motion because of the urgency.
I will speak to the urgency of the issue, because it is greater today than it was when I introduced the motion.
I will quote briefly from today's Wall Street Journal. As senators know, the Iranian government has been playing cat and mouse with the international community, and for the first time the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency has condemned strongly the Iranian government's refusal to cooperate with international supervisors. They have put things on the table and they have pulled them back, most recently this weekend.
I will bring the debate up to date to illustrate the urgency of the Senate passing this motion before the end of this year. It is for us to join forces with the international community, including Russia and China, which is now mightily concerned with the situation because dire consequences might follow if the international community does not have its way and introduce sanctions quickly.
Here is what happened this weekend as told in today's Wall Street Journal on page A8:
Western officials said the Iranian foreign minister's weekend comments that Tehran would be willing to make a uranium trade in small batches, and on Iranian soil, fell well short of their demands.
Senior Iranian officials, however, have refused to endorse the proposal, instead offering a series of sometimes-contradictory counteroffers and demands for major changes, in public comments.
Skipping down again:
U.S. officials said Sunday that Mr. Mottaki's comments didn't alter the Obama administration's plan to impose tough new economic sanctions on Iran at the end of the year.
Further in the article it says:
On Friday, the European Council of the European Union adopted a declaration expressing "grave concern that Iran has so far done nothing to rebuild confidence of the international community in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear program."
The declaration said the EU would "support action by the United Nations Security Council" if Iran doesn't begin to cooperate with the international community over its nuclear program.
An EU spokesman on Sunday declined to comment on the declaration.
A spokeswoman for the German foreign ministry said Germany "expects Iran to seek cooperation" to resolve open issues surrounding its nuclear program.
Here we are on December 14. The deadline is 16 days hence. Hence the urgency, honourable senators, of this chamber addressing this issue, hopefully before we adjourn. There will be dire consequences if Iran does not conform to the UN resolutions, particularly those of the UN Atomic Energy Commission, which is now overwhelmingly criticizing Iran, which they have not done before.
This is a world crisis. I do not know how often I have to say this to honourable senators in this chamber. The evidence is clear. All parts of the international community are prepared to move, including Russia and China, which was reluctant but said a couple of weeks ago that they are now prepared to move in concert with the international community.
I hope that this chamber will endorse this resolution, with which I think no one finds fault. I commend Senator Di Nino for his excellent amendment, which I believe strengthens the resolution.
I thank Senator Jaffer again for her poignant comments about the role of the Baha'i. Baha'i is historically probably the most peaceful religion in the world. If honourable senators examine the history of Judaism, Christianity and the Muslim faith, they will learn that the religions are all bifurcated, that they all called for violence and destruction at some point in their religious theology. However, the Baha'i have never called for this violence. They are the most peaceful of all the major religions in the world — historically, in practice and so on — and they have found a happy home in Haifa, Israel. I have attended their magnificent temple located in the heart of Haifa, Israel.
Honourable senators, this is a crime against humanity and against the Baha'i, the most peaceful religion in the world, a religion that does not intend or seek out or seek to proselytize. To be criticized and treated this way in Iran is an historic scandal. I hope we lend our voices not only to the substance of the resolution dealing with the nuclear issue but also to respecting this most peaceful of all religions. I wish you all season's greetings and urge you to support this motion.