Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Iranian President Mahmoud AhmadinejadIsrael news photo: Flash 90

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) in Canada welcomed Friday’s announcement by the Government of Canada that it closed Canada’s Embassy in Iran and would expel all Iranian diplomats from Canada within five days.

“The Centre strongly applauds the principled stand articulated by Foreign Minister John Baird and the Canadian government,” Shimon Fogel, CEO of CIJA, said in a statement.

“We believe the suspension of diplomatic relations with Iran and the listing of Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism is an appropriate Canadian response to the growing threat Iran represents to global security and stability,” he added.

“The deteriorating human rights situation domestically, the destructive role Iran is playing in Syria, the determination the regime has shown in its drive to acquire nuclear weapons in defiance of the international community, and its genocidal pronouncements regarding the Jewish state require the strongest of responses. We believe that the removal of Canadian personnel from Iran creates a window of opportunity for Canada to move towards listing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist entity, consistent with Canada’s designation of Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism.

“Such a policy would further isolate Iran and together with the strictest enforcement of a comprehensive sanctions program will help ensure Canada exhausts all diplomatic and legal measures in confronting the regime,” said Fogel.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said in a statement on Friday that “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 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,” said Baird’s statement. “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.

Canada’s announcement was welcomed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, whose office said in a statement on Friday, “A week after the display of anti-Semitism and hatred in Tehran, the Canadian government has adopted a highly moral step. The determination shown by Canada is very important so the Iranians realize they cannot continue the race for nuclear weapons.

“This practical step should be an example to the international community of morality and responsibility,” said the statement. “It is important that the international community join this pressure by presenting clear red lines for Iran.”