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President Donald J. Trump (from the White House)

What is the most volatile crisis on the world agenda today? Obviously, it is the ongoing clash between the US and North Korea that has raised the specter of a nuclear war. President Trump's concern about 'the very bad deal' with Iran takes second place. But the American leader has now exploited the opportunity of not certifying the nuclear accord, finalized two years, to accuse the Iranians of violating the spirit of the agreement and imposing new sanctions. It appears that Trump is taking a very tough stand on Iran, against the advice of his European partners, in order to send a tough signal to North Korean tyrant Kim Jong-un, as if to warn: 'If you continue to mess with me, I will take action no matter what everyone else thinks!' No doubt Trump is also peeved that his foreign allies are content to sit back and do nothing regarding North Korea while they cash in on lucrative trade deals with Tehran.

Israel's Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu reacted within minutes with a prepared statement praising Trump's 'courageous' stand against Iran. Lead by Saudi Arabia, the Sunni Arab states threatened by Tehran, joined the chorus.

If this interpretation is true what impact if any, will it have on North Korea, which Israel believes colluded with Iran on nuclear weapons in the past and probably still is today? (North Korea also was building Syria's secret nuclear reactor before Israeli jets reportedly destroyed it. On at least one occasion, Iranian experts were invited to a North Korean nuclear test. If the price is right North Korea is ready to offer its nuclear services. Now that Tehran is reaping a bonanza from the nuclear deal, Tehran will have more available cash to pay for Pyongyang's nuclear services.

The bottom line is that no matter what one thinks about Trump, the fact is he must cope now with the abject failures of former US Presidents. Bill Clinton signed an agreement with North Korea and then and did nothing while it was flagrantly violated, leaving Trump to face the results years later. The same applies to Barack Obama, who after first receiving a Noble Peace prize negotiated a similar bogus accord with Tehran. In effect, both Clinton and Obama kicked the nuclear can down the road leaving it to their successor to cope with. These two problems have now been dumped at Trump's door.

So what is a rational approach? Trump is now using the Iranian arena to demonstrate to Kim Jong-un that he is no Obama. In fact, it is puzzling to me why Trump has not made a point of saying he is only following the example of the revered President John Kennedy who stood up to the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.

On another issue, Trump's decision to withdraw from UNESCO, the UN Education, Science and Culture Organization, a band of international ignorant, uncultured boors if there ever was one that spends most of its time bashing the Jewish state, is yet another of Trump's actions speaking louder than words. Israel of course swiftly followed suit, if UNESCO doesn't smarten up over the next year or so. The question is whether the appointment of Audrey Azoulay, the former French Minister of Culture, who comes from a Moroccan Jewish family, will make any difference in the goings-on at UNESCO.

Canada should consider Israel's Arrow Missile defense….

Kim Jong-un's threats to nuke the US have more than caught the interest of many Canadians, and with good reason. Specifically, because the shortest flight path for North Korea's would be right over Canada on their way to New York, Chicago, whatever. An intriguing article by Graeme Hamilton in the National Post newspaper even raises the nightmare of the North Koreans deliberately targeting a Canadian city as a demonstration target to warn the US. And what if a North Korean nuke 'ran out of gas' over Toronto?

James Fergusson (CC Centre for Defence and Security Studies)

So how well-prepared is Canada? An official inquiry has determined – not all. When James Fergusson, Director of the University of Manitoba's Centre for Defence and Security, was asked what Canadians should do in the event of a nuclear attack by North Korea, this was his astounding reply:

'Get on your knees and pray!'

The rest of the news is just as bad:

'Civilians should not expect government emergency responders to reach you even before two weeks'

And what if a North Korean nuke 'ran out of gas' over greater Toronto? This is Canada's biggest metropolitan area and with its neighboring towns numbers some seven million people. Come to think about it, that's about the entire Jewish population of Israel. Speaking of the Jewish state, Iran test fires its long-range missiles with the slogan of 'annihilate Israel' painted on them. These missiles are being designed to carry nuclear warheads, so how does Israel cope with such a sinister threat almost next door? Israel has designed and built the Arrow anti-missile system that we are told will be able to intercept Iranian nuclear missiles long before they reach us. (One unofficial rumor is that Israel has even developed a super- sophisticated process of diverting the incoming missile from is Israeli target and directing it elsewhere – maybe back to Tehran! Wow, wouldn't that give the Ayatollahs something to think about?) Moreover Israelis believe, rightly or wrongly, that they have the best and bravest pilots in the world. On that score, former Israeli Air Force Commander Amir Eshel recently disclosed that he and his comrades perfected tactics for neutralizing the Iranian nuclear threat and that this capability 'is being maintained in our toolbox'. Let's assume that takes care of the operational level. On the other hand, Israel has an unofficial and demonstrated policy of not permitting her Middle East neighbors to acquire nuclear weapons. In 1981 Israeli jets destroyed Saddam Hussein's nuclear reactor in Iraq just before it was about to go 'hot', and in 2007 Syria's nuclear reactor, being built by North Korea, was mysteriously bombed. An American official later attributed this to Israel.

Summing up growing concern in Canada, should Ottawa now consider installing Israel's Arrow missile defense system?

Full disclosure: As a Canadian who came to Israel more than fifty years ago, it seems to me that in a world of crazy states, such as Iran and North Korea, the time has come for even Canada to consider whether it can still keep playing the role of a Switzerland.


David Essing

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