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Canada severs diplomatic ties with Iran, calling Teheran "the most significant threat to global peace"

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Canada announced on Friday (7/9/2012) that it is closing down its embassy in Iran, and has also expelled all Iranian diplomats from the country. "Canada has closed it's embassy in Iran, effective immediately, and declared persona non grata all remaining Iranian diplomats in Canada," states Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird in a press release, which later further explains that "Diplomatic relations between Canada and Iran have been suspended. All Canadian diplomatic staff have left Iran, and Iranian diplomats in Ottawa have been instructed to leave within five days."

Baird expressed a robust and unwavering Canadian government stance on Iran: "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 Canadian Foreign Minister then went on to list the assorted dangerous rogue behaviours of the Iranian regime: "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."

The Canadian government's decision was positively received by opposition MPs such as former Attorney-General Prof. Irwin Cotler, co-Chair of the Interparliamentary Group for Human Rights in Iran and International Chair of the Responsibility to Prevent Coalition, which published a report on "The Danger of a Nuclear, Genocidal, and Rights-Violating Iran."

Cotler stated that "The Canadian government's decision to close the Canadian Embassy in Iran - and expel Iranian diplomats from Canada - is as important for the reasons underlying the decision, as the decision itself," adding that "Iran has emerged as a clear and present danger to international peace and security manifested in the four-fold Iranian threat: Iran is in standing violation of international law prohibiting nuclear weaponisation; Iran has already committed the crime of incitement to genocide prohibited under the Genocide Convention; Iran is a leading state-sponsor of international terrorism; and, finally, Iran is engaged in the massive domestic repression of the rights of its own people." Colter also mentioned other reasons underpinning the Canadian decision: "Iran's complicity in Syria's atrocities; Iran's complicity in assaults upon diplomats from Central Asia to Central America; and the intimidation of Canadian-Iranians in Canada."

The Canadian decision to sever diplomatic ties with Iran also elicited congratulations from Israeli officials, who saw it as a clear and important diplomatic message, and also commended the dedicated moral stance Canada was taking. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated shortly after the Canadian decision was made public that he "... would like to commend Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper for taking a step that showed leadership and daring and which sends a clear message to Iran and the entire world. One week after the display of anti-Semitism and hatred in Tehran, the government of Canada is taking a moral step of the highest order. Canada's determination is very important in order for the Iranians to understand that they cannot continue their race after nuclear weapons. This practical measure needs to serve as an example of international responsibility for the global community. It is important that the international community join in this pressure by setting Iran clear red lines."

President Shimon Peres thanked Canada as well, stating that "Canada has proven once again that morals come before pragmatism, Canada has demonstrated that policy must reflect principles and values. I thank my colleague Governor General David Johnston, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the whole nation of Canada for taking a stance based on the highest morals and hope that other nations will see Canada as a moral role model. The diplomatic isolation of Iran is an important step for the security and stability of the entire world."

President Peres highlighted the destructive aspirations of the Iranian regime, and their implications for the international community: "It is inconceivable that a UN member state will threaten to destroy another member state, it completely contradicts the UN charter. Other member states must stand against it. Iran is a source of global terror, a blatant violator of human rights and Iran aims to dominate the entire Middle East. The combination of hegemonic ambition, political madness and a nuclear weapon is an unacceptable and unbearable combination which endangers the entire world and against which the entire world must act with all its power."

The Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs hit back at Canada with characteristic bombast, stressing in a statement that "Canada's action to close its embassy in Tehran and expel Iranian diplomats from Ottawa is unprofessional, unconventional, unjustifiable, and a misuse of international laws."

The Iranian Foreign Ministry statement also says: "The conservative regime of Canada under Mr. Harper, is known with adopting radical policies and following the defeated and outdated policies of Neo-conservatives." Teheran ironically went on to blame Canada for human rights violations, stating that "the government of Canada, according to the reports of United Nations Rapporteur on indigenous rights, has the worst record on violating human rights, with its radical actions and financially supporting the extremist forces in the region and its all-out, blind support for the Zionist regime which is a racist regime, has adopted policies which does not help the world peace but is a source of threat to international security."

Iranian official and semi-official news agencies, such as the Fars News-Agency, were also quick to accuse Canada of acting under the influence of "Zionist pressures."

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