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Canada closes its embassy in Iran and will expel all Iranian diplomats

Foreign Minister John Baird calls Iran "the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today," announces Embassy closure.

Revolutionary guard iranEnlarge
Members of the Iranian revolutionary guard march during a parade to commemorate the anniversary of the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88), in Tehran in this September 22, 2011 file photo. (Reuters/Reuters)

Canada has chosen to close its embassy in Iran, Reuters reported Friday, following a statement by Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird. 

Canada will also expel all remaining Iranian diplomats within 5 days from the country, Baird added, as he called Tehran the biggest global threat to world security. 

What were Baird's reasons? He cited Syria, Iran's burgeoning nuclear power program, and the safety of foreign diplomats in his Friday statement, says Reuters. 

"The Iranian regime has shown blatant disregard for the Vienna Convention and its guarantee of protection for diplomatic personnel," Baird said in a statement, via the Calgary Herald. 

"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."

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The Canadian Embassy in Tehran has updated its website as of this morning, suggesting that Canadians in Iran direct inquiries to missions in Turkey. Canadian nationals are now strongly advised to avoid travel to Iran. 

The website also warned that "regional tensions" could lead to heightened scrutiny of Canadian nationals by Iranian authorities, and that "seemingly innocuous" behaviors could lead to "investigation and harassment." 

Canadian nationals' safety appeared to be the paramount reason for the diplomatic decision, as Canadians clearly recall last November, when protesters stormed the British Embassy in Tehran and forced the UK to pull out of the nation entirely. 

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Iran protesters stormed the British Embassy last November in Tehran, forcing the UK to pull out. 

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague swiftly responded to the violence, closing the Iranian Embassy in London and forcing out Iranian diplomats.

The US hasn't had an embassy presence in Tehran since 1979, following the infamous hostage crisis — although the US does maintain a "virtual embassy" for the purpose of communicating with the Iranian people. 

Read more: Iranian embassy in Ottawa ‘clearly’ seeking to interfere in Canada’s domestic affairs - National Post

The Swiss government has served as the protecting power of the US in Iran since 1980.

Sweden has taken on the role of protecting power for the UK in Iran following its withdrawal, according to The Local. There's no word yet as to Canada's intentions vis-a-vis selecting a protecting power nation. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/canada/120907/canada-closes-its-embassy-iran-and-will-expel-all-irani