Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said his country is suspending diplomatic relations with Iran and designating the country as a sponsor of terrorism.
Baird, in an announcement to reporters in Vladivostok, Russia, where he is attending an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, said Canada will close its embassy in Tehran and expel Iranian diplomats from Canada.
“Canada views the government of Iran as the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today,” Baird said.
Baird cited Iran’s military assistance for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government, its refusal to comply with United Nations nuclear resolutions, its threats against Israel and its support for terrorist groups. In an e-mailed statement following his comments to reporters, Baird said Canada has no knowledge of any plans for a military strike against Iran.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Aug. 1 that time “is running out” for a peaceful solution to Iran’s atomic program. Israeli and U.S. leaders have said repeatedly that “all options are on the table” to contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions, including a military strike.
Iran has said its atomic work is intended for civilian and not military purposes.
“Iran regards the use of nuclear, chemical and similar weapons as a great and unforgivable sin,” Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Aug. 30. “This does not of course mean forgoing our right to pursue use of nuclear power.”
The Swiss embassy has handled American interests in Iran since 1981, a year after the U.S. ended diplomatic relations with Iran following the taking of hostages at its embassy in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution.
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