OTTAWA CITIZEN (H/T Susan K) Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird delivered a diplomatic bolt from the blue Friday, abruptly and unexpectedly severing ties with Iran, shuttering Canada’s embassy there and giving Iranian diplomats in Ottawa five days to get out of the country.
Baird rattled off a litany of long-standing grievances with Iran during a hastily organized news conference in the Russian city of Vladivostok, where he and Prime Minister Stephen Harper are participating in this weekend’s meeting of Asia Pacific Co-operation leaders.
|CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER STEPHEN HARPER|
“The Iranian regime has shown blatant disregard for the Vienna Convention and its guarantee of protection for diplomatic personnel,” Baird said. ”Under the circumstances, Canada can no longer maintain a diplomatic presence in Iran. Our diplomats serve Canada as civilians, and their safety is our No. 1 priority.”
The move came as a surprise, one Baird justified with complaints that Canada and others around the world have been making for months, if not years. Baird cited an eight-month-old attack on Britain’s embassy in Tehran as evidence that Canada’s own diplomats there are in danger. He also accused Iran of providing military assistance to the Assad regime in war-riven Syria, failing to comply with UN resolutions regarding its nuclear program, and “materially” supporting terrorist groups.
And, for good measure, he accused Iran of “routinely” threatening the existence of Israel, engaging in racist anti-Semitic rhetoric and incitement to genocide, and called the country “among the world’s worst violators of human rights.” ”Canada,” he said, “views the government of Iran as the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today.”