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Trudeau says Ukrainian airliner victims would be alive if not for Iran tensions

President Donald J. Trump participates in a bilateral meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, at Winfield House in London. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the Canadians killed on board Flight 752 in Iran would be alive if tensions in the region were not at a heightened level.

“If there were no tensions, if there was no escalation recently in the region, those Canadians would be right now home with their families,” Trudeau told Global News TV, a Canadian broadcaster, on January 13 .

Iran’s military has admitted to shooting down a Ukrainian airliner on January 8, killing all 176 on board, including 57 Canadians.

The incident occurred just hours after Tehran fired ballistic missiles targeting U.S. forces in Iraq in retaliation for a U.S. drone attack that killed Iran’s most prominent military commander, Qasem Soleimani, on January 3.

Trudeau has faced questions over the past week on whether U.S. President Donald Trump also bears partial responsibility for the tragedy.

“This is something that happens when you have conflict and war,” Trudeau said. “Innocents bear the brunt of it and it is a reminder why all of us need to work so hard on de-escalation, moving forward to reduce tensions and find a pathway that doesn’t involve further conflict and killing.”

Trudeau said he had spoken with Trump about the incident and emphasized the importance of easing strain.

“I have spoken to him [Trump] and I have talked about the need to de-escalate tensions,” he said.

U.S. Deterrence Policy

The killing of Soleimani, who was the architect of Iran’s campaign to spread its influence across the Middle East, is part of a broader strategy of deterrence against Iran and other foes, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a speech delivered at Stanford University’s Hoover Institute in California on January 13.

Titled, The Restoration of Deterrence: The Iranian Example, the speech focused on Washington’s strategy of establishing “real deterrence” against Iran.

Trump and Pompeo have said Soleimani was the world’s preeminent terrorist and justified his killing over imminent attacks U.S. diplomatic and military personnel were facing although the purported intelligence leading to that assessment hasn’t been disclosed.

“The Fake News Media and their Democrat Partners are working hard to determine whether or not the future attack by terrorist Soleimani was ‘imminent’ or not, & was my team in agreement,” Trump said on Twitter on January 13. “The answer to both is a strong YES., but it doesn’t really matter because of his horrible past!”

At Stanford, Pompeo said the “bigger strategy” behind the killing of Soleimani was that “America now enjoys the greatest position of strength regarding Iran we’ve ever been in.”

In the speech, Pompeo referred to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran from which Trump unilaterally withdrew in 2018, which allegedly had spurred Iran.

The new strategy wasn’t “confined” to Iran, Pompeo said, citing examples Washington has taken concerning Russia and China.

He mentioned lethal military aid given to Ukraine to defend itself from Russia-backed separatists and Trump’s departure from an arms-control pact with Moscow and recent tests last year of a new U.S. mid-range cruise missile.

Regarding China, Pompeo cited increased U.S. naval exercises in the South China Sea amid Beijing’s policy of militarization of disputed islands and Trump’s trade war as other aspects of the deterrence strategy.