Saying, "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 announced
this morning that effective immediately, the Canadian Embassy in Iran is closed. All Canadian diplomats had left Iran prior to the announcement and all Iranian diplomats in Canada have been declared personae non gratae
. They have five days in which to leave the country.
The announcement was made while Baird was in Russia where he is attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-Operation summit. In giving the reasons why diplomatic relations are being cut, Baird said,
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.
The Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act
was passed into law on March 13, 2012. It allows Canadian victims of terrorist acts to sue not only the perpetrators of terrorist acts but their supporters, in Canadian courts. The legislation applies to terrorist acts committed anywhere in the world and to any act committed after Jan. 1,1985.
Another reason given for cutting diplomatic ties with Iran is the danger posed to Canadian government officials working in Tehran. Baird said, "...the Iranian regime has shown blatant disregard for the Vienna Convention
[PDF] 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."
In addition to the storming of the American embassy in 1979, CBC
reports that last November the British embassy was stormed by Iranian students who ransacked the offices. The British government complained that Iran did not provide adequate security to the building and did not properly respond to the actions of the students.
As reported by the Montreal Gazette
, relations between Canada and Iran cooled in 2003 after the death of Zarah Kazemi, a dual Iranian and Canadian citizen. Canada referred to the death of the freelance photographer in an Iranian prison as "state-sanctioned murder." Canada later recalled its ambassador.
The government gave no reason why these actions were taken at this particular time but Baird later denied there is information that a military strike against Iran is imminent.
Canada has updated its Travel Reports and Warnings
and advises Canadians to "avoid all travel" to Iran. The government is also reminding Iranian Canadians that Iran does not recognize dual citizenship and there is little Canada can do for Canadian citizens who are also citizens of Iran if they encounter difficulties.
Canadians who are currently in Iran and need consular assistance are asked to go to the Canadian embassy in Ankara or any other Canadian mission.