Canada Lists Iran as Terrorism Sponsor, Breaks Off Ties

World | September 7, 2012, Friday // 18:31|  views

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird has announced his country's suspension of diplomatic ties with Iran. Photo by Canadian Press

Canada has suspended diplomatic relations with Iran and is expelling Iranian diplomats from Canada, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced in a statement on Friday.

Speaking to reporters in Russia, where he's attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-Operation summit,

The Canadian government has formally listed as a state sponsor of terrorism under the Justice for Victims of Terrorist Act, Baird told reporters in Russia where he was attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, as cited by CBS News.

"Iran is among the world's worst violators of human rights. It shelters and materially supports terrorist groups," Baird declared.

In the statement, Baird said Canada has closed its embassy in Iran, effective immediately, and declared personae non gratae all remaining Iranian diplomats in Canada. Those diplomats must leave within five days. All Canadian diplomats have already left Iran.

"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," he said in the statement.

The statement cited Iran's support for the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria and failure to comply with UN resolutions on its nuclear program, and its threats against Israel.

Canada's statement also makes reference to Iran's "blatant disregard" of the Vienna Convention that guarantees the protection of diplomatic personnel.

In November 2011, Iranian students stormed the British embassy in Tehran, the country's capital, and ransacked its offices.

Britain's foreign office summoned an Iranian diplomat in London, amid complaints that Iran failed to provide proper security to the embassy and did not do enough in response to the attack.

Iran has not had a full ambassador in Canada since 2007, following a breakdown in relations after Iranian-Canadian photographer Zahra Kazemi was tortured and killed there in 2003.

Pro-democracy activists in Canada renewed calls over the summer for the Iranian Embassy in Ottawa to be closed.

The calls were sparked by a news report that said Iran's cultural counsellor in Ottawa, Hamid Mohammadi, suggested Iranian expatriates should be nurtured to be of service to Iran.

Baird issued a warning on July 13, saying the Iranian government has no right to interfere with Canadians who left Iran to build a better life.

"Obviously we're concerned by some of the reports that we've heard," Baird said.

"It is completely inconsistent with any diplomatic mission for the Iranian mission in Ottawa to interfere in the liberties that [Iranian-Canadians] enjoy in Canada. Any police organization will certainly take a look at any serious allegations that are raised in terms of their conduct. And obviously my department will watch very closely and will be pleased to hear any representations on anything that the embassy has done that is inconsistent with their function as diplomats in Ottawa."

One of the most prominent voices calling for the closure was Nazanin Afshin-Jam, a human rights activist and the wife of Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay.

Afshin-Jam's father was imprisoned and tortured in Iran before the family fled, eventually ending up in Vancouver.

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Tags: canada, Iran, Iranian nuclear program, UK embassy, John Baird, APEC, Russia, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, sponsor of terrorism, terrorism, Tehran, Ottawa, Vancouver


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