VLADIVOSTOK, RUSSIA – The Canadian government has became the latest country to crack down on the Islamic Republic of Iran, announcing a cut in diplomatic relations.
The Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, in Russia’s Far East port city for the 2012 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Week, issued the following statement before departing for India:
Canada has closed its embassy in Iran, effective immediately, and declared personae non gratae all remaining Iranian diplomats in Canada. 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. The Iranian regime is providing increasing military assistance to the Assad regime; 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; it is among the world’s worst violators of human rights; and it shelters and materially supports terrorist groups, requiring the Government of Canada to formally list Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism under the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act. 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.
Baird also noted that all Canadian diplomatic staff in Tehran have left or have been instructed to leave the country within five days. His staff refused to expand on his comments. However, a senior political officer at the Canadian Embassy in Beijing last week said, informally, that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper personally considers Israel’s security and interests a priority in Canada’s foreign policy.
The Iranian government accused Ottawa of bowing to British and American influence and warned it may swiftly retaliate.
Relations between the two countries have been strained for nearly a decade following the death in 2003 of an Iranian-Canadian photojournalist while in police custody. They have reached a record low under the leaderships of Harper and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.