Canada Breaks Diplomatic Relations With Iran

In a move that comes as a surprise only because it came seemingly without warning that there is anything wrong between the two nations, Canada has severed all diplomatic relations with Iran, closed its embassy, and ordered Iranian diplomats to leave the country:

(CNN) – Canada suspended relations with Iran and expelled the country’s diplomats Friday, calling the country’s regime “the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today.”

Iranian diplomats in Canada have five days to get out, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Friday in a scathing statement. Canada’s diplomatic staff has already left Iran, and Baird advised all Canadians to avoid travel to the country.

Among other things, Iran “refuses to comply with U.N. 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,” Baird said.

He also called out the regime for providing military support to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has been widely criticized in international circles for the government’s bloody effort to suppress a rebellion.

“Moreover,” Baird said, “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. Our diplomats serve Canada as civilians, and their safety is our number one priority.”

Those who are old enough will recall that, during the Iran Hostage Crisis, six American diplomats who had been able to escape the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979 made their way to the Canadian Embassy where they were granted asylum. Some 2 1/2 months later, in what became popularly known as the “Canadian Caper” a joint operation between the Canadian Government and the CIA resulted in a secret flight in which the six Americans were able to leave Iran under the cover of phony Canadian diplomatic passports. I can still remember the good will this generated on the part of Americans toward Canada that lasted for a long time afterward.

If nothing else this is yet another nail in the coffin of Iran’s international isolation. Whether it is an indication of something more to come I’ll leave for others to speculate about.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    This is a remarkable development. I can’t help but wonder if the Canadians believe that war is about to break out. Or serious civil disorder.

  2. @Dave Schuler:

    Indeed. It’s not made as clear in the CNN article l quoted, but in other press accounts they make clear that the safety of Canadian diplomats is among their top concerns. I’m not sure if this was accompanied by a recommendation that any Canadian civilians in the country get out as well, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was.

  3. Gromitt Gunn says:

    I’m impressed. It takes dedicated effort to piss of Canada.

  4. James H says:

    Was Iran behind the maple-syrup heist?

  5. george says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    This is a remarkable development. I can’t help but wonder if the Canadians believe that war is about to break out. Or serious civil disorder.

    Living up in Canada, that is what the people I’ve talked to are wondering. It kind of sounds like getting the embassy folks out before it hits the fan – at least no one seems to believe any other explanation.

  6. @george:

    Actually, it’s a response to the attack on the British embassy in Theran last November. The Canadian embassy sent home all of its dependents and staff back then, and it just took until now until they were ready to completely close the embassy.