“It’s stupid to close an embassy in these circumstances,” said James George, who served as Canada’s ambassador to Iran between 1972 and 1977. “We need to keep an ear open there – our own ear.” [...]
How many divisions do the mullahs have?
“Richard Helms, who had been the head of the CIA and then became the American ambassador, used to tease me for spending too much time with the mullahs in [the Iranian holy city of] Qum,” he said. “He’d say to me, ‘How much military equipment do they have?’ And I’d say to him, ‘We’ll see who has the last laugh.’” [...]
Mr. George said he sides with what he calls a majority of senior defence officials – in Israel and elsewhere – in opposing a pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. “They think it would be crazy. They can’t do what they did in Iraq” – a reference to the 1981 Israeli attack on Saddam Hussein’s nuclear reactor at Osirak, then under construction.
Closing the Canadian embassy in Tehran, he says, puts us “on the wrong side of the fence when contemplating what happens between now and the U.S. election [in November]. “That’s the gap, the window, that [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu has to strike Iran. The way I read it, it suggests Canada has some inside information that Netanyahu will use that window, and Mr. Harper doesn’t want Canadian diplomats in the way.”
The Canadian decision simply “fuels speculation about a possible attack, adds to the tension and the likelihood that something will happen. I think it was the wrong move for that reason.”