Canada breaks off relations with Iran
OTTAWA - Agence France-Presse
Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, left, and Assistant Deputy Foreign Minister Gordon Venner. AP PhotoCanada closed its Tehran embassy and vowed to expel Iranian diplomats today, expressing concern for the mission's safety and slamming Iran's support for the Syrian regime and its threats against Israel.
"Canada's position on the regime in Iran is well known. Canada views the government of Iran as the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today," Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said.
"Diplomatic relations between Canada and Iran have been suspended. All Canadian diplomatic staff have left Iran, and Iranian diplomats in Ottawa have been instructed to leave within five days," he said, in a statement.
Canada did not cite a specific incident that caused the breakdown in ties, but issued a strongly worded attack on Tehran's support for Bashar al-Assad's beleaguered Syrian regime and its "incitement to genocide" against Israel.
Baird also attacked Tehran's failure to account for its nuclear program, which Western powers allege is designed to give Iran a nuclear bomb, and accused the "Iranian regime" of promoting international terrorism.
He also warned Canadians, including dual national Canadian-Iranians, that Ottawa will not be able to provide assistance to them if they travel to Iran.
"The Iranian regime is providing increasing military assistance to the Assad regime," he said, in the statement.
"It refuses to comply with UN resolutions pertaining to its nuclear program; it routinely threatens the existence of Israel and engages in racist anti-Semitic rhetoric and incitement to genocide," the statement continued.
"It is among the world's worst violators of human rights and it shelters and materially supports terrorist groups.
"Moreover, the Iranian regime has shown blatant disregard for the Vienna Convention and its guarantee of protection for diplomatic personnel. Under the circumstances, Canada can no longer maintain a diplomatic presence in Iran.
"Our diplomats serve Canada as civilians, and their safety is our number one priority," he said.
The statement advised Canadians in Iran needing consular assistance to try to contact the Canadian mission in Turkey, and warned them that the "Iranian regime does not recognize the principle of dual nationality."