Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird
Credits: CHRIS ROUSSAKIS/QMI AGENCY
VLADIVOSTOK, Russia - Canada has placed Iran on its list of state sponsors of terrorism and has shut down its embassy in Tehran, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said.
Baird, speaking to reporters ahead of the opening of the annual summit of Pacific nation leaders here, said the skeleton Canadian Embassy staff in Tehran has been withdrawn for their own safety.
Canada is also expelling all Iranian diplomats in Canada.
"Canada views the government of Iran as the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today," Baird said. "The government of Canada is formally listing Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism."
Baird said the federal government is also officially warning Canadians not to travel to Iran.
"We feel that it's no longer safe to have representatives of the government of Canada in Tehran," Baird said.
There has been increased speculation in the Israeli press that Israel is preparing to attack Iran to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear bomb. But, in a statement e-mailed to reporters, Baird seemed to rule out the idea that Canada has some inside intelligence about any pending military action against Iran.
"Unequivocally, we have no information about a military strike on Iran," Baird said in a statement e-mailed to reporters after a brief scrum here.
"This action is a made-in-Ottawa action and we're acting alone in this regard," Baird told reporters.
Moreover, under the Conservatives' recently adopted Justice for the Victims of Terrorism Act, the list of countries Canada has named as "state sponsors of terrorism" must be published by Sept. 13.
Pressed several times by reporters about why Canada was taking this action now, Baird rattled off a long list of grievances Canada has with Iran:
- Iran refuses to comply with the United Nations resolutions pertaining to its nuclear program
- Increasing military assistance to the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad
- Iran shelters and "materially supports" terrorist groups
- Routine threats to the existence of the state of Israel
- Repeated violations of the Vienna Convention which governs diplomatic relations between most countries of the world
- "Racist anti-Semitic rhetoric and incitement to genocide," Baird said.
- Worst violators of human rights.
"Under the circumstances, Canada can no longer maintain a diplomatic presence in Tehran," Baird said. "There's a just a long list of reasons why we're coming to this decision."
Baird said all Canadian diplomats have already left Iran.