Canada suspended diplomatic relations with Iran, closing down its embassy in Iran and giving Iranian diplomats in Canada five days to leave its soil, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird announced Friday.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quickly welcomed the decision, calling on the rest of the world to follow suit while, predictably, Iran denounced it.
Speaking in Vladivostok, Russia, Baird summed up the reasons for the decision saying that the Canadian government views “the Government of Iran as the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today.”
Baird went on to list a litany of actions by the Iranian government, from providing military assistance to the regime of Bashir Assad in Syria, “refus[ing] to comply with UN resolutions pertaining to its nuclear program,” threatening Israel’s existence, violating human rights and supporting terrorism.
Baird also said that Iran “has shown blatant disregard for the Vienna Convention and its guarantee of protection for diplomatic personnel” and therefore “Canada can no longer maintain a diplomatic presence in Iran” due to safety reasons.
Elaborating to reporters, Baird referred to the attack on the British Embassy in Tehran last November, the New York Times reported.
That same day, Baird and Canadian Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews also announced that Canada has listed both Iran and Syria as state sponsors of terrorism. That decision will allow victims of terror to sue both countries under Canada’s Justice for Victims of Terror Act.
Later in the day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper for taking “a bold measure which displays leadership and sends a clear message to Iran and the entire world.”
Netanyahu said the decision was particularly important in light of the “anti-Semitism and hatred” displayed at the conference of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran, which was attended by 120 countries and U.N. General Secretary Ban Ki Moon.
Netanyahu called on the international community to follow Canada’s example and reiterated his call on the world to set “clear red lines for Iran.”
Meanwhile, an Iranian foreign ministry spokeperson, Ramin Mehmanparast, condemned Canada decision, saying it was one of Canada’s “extremist policies in the field of foreign policy” and that it was “in fact, the pursuit of Zionist and British dictated policies,” the Tehran Times reported.
The Canadian government, led by Stephen Harper and Canada’s Conservative Party, has shown support for Israel on a number of instances as of late.
In November 2010, Harper said Canada was “morally obligated to take a stand” for Israel, adding that “as long as I am Prime Minister . . . Canada will take that stand, whatever the cost.”
In May this year, Baird spoke in Washington D.C. about the importance of defending Israel, comparing Iran to the Nazi threat of World War II, and visited Israel only a few weeks ago in August.
Canada also stood with Israel in opposing the Palestinian Authority’s bid for U.N. recognition as an independent state in 2011.