TORONTO (AP) — Canada’s Conservative government said Friday it is shutting its embassy in Tehran and severing diplomatic relations with Iran, which Canada says is providing military assistance to Syria.
“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,” Baird said in a statement.
“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.”
Baird said he was worried about the safety of diplomats in Tehran following attacks on the British embassy there.
Britain downgraded ties with Iran following a major attack on its embassy in Tehran in November 2011, which it insists was sanctioned by the Islamic republic’s ruling elite. After the attack, Britain pulled all of its diplomats out of Iran and expelled Iranian diplomats from U.K. soil.
Relations became even rockier in 2003 after Zahra Kazemi, a freelance photographer with dual Canadian-Iranian citizenship, died in custody after being arrested while taking photographs outside a Tehran prison in 2003. Canada then recalled its ambassador. Iran also ordered Canada’s ambassador to leave the country after trying unsuccessfully to come to an agreement on an exchange of ambassadors for some time.
Associated Press writer Charmaine Noronha contributed from Toronto.