Canada has closed its embassy in Iran and has ordered all Iranian diplomats in Canada to leave the country as the nation severed diplomatic ties with the Islamic republic on Friday.
Once named by US President George Bush as part of an “Axis of evil,” Iran is being formally listed by Canada as a state sponsor of terrorism under the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act. This classification would allow Canadian victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorism to sue.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird told CBC News that the nation is acknowledging Iran’s rights abuses by severing ties, but cautions that ending of diplomatic relations is not a prelude to any kind of military conflict.
“Iran is among the world’s worst violators of human rights. It shelters and materially supports terrorist groups,” Baird said. “Unequivocally, we have no information about a military strike on Iran.”
CNN reports that Baird cited Iran’s support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, their refusal to comply with UN sanctions regarding their nuclear program, and support for terrorist activities as reasons for the split.
“The Iranian regime has shown blatant disregard for the Vienna Convention and its guarantee of protection for diplomatic personnel,” Baird said. “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.”
Iran has not had a full ambassador since a relations breakdown in 2007. Canadians still in Iran are urged to leave, and those needing assistance should contact the Canadian embassy in Turkey.