Severing Iran ties did nothing for us, new Canadian FM says

Stéphane Dion says 2012 move was useless for everyone, including Israel, vows to ramp up relationship but not remain silent ‘when we see Iran move in the wrong direction’

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Stephane Dion, right, welcoming UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to Canada on February 11, 2016. (UN/Evan Schneider)
Stephane Dion, right, welcoming UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to Canada on February 11, 2016. (UN/Evan Schneider)

Ushering in major new policy shifts promised by Canada’s newly installed Liberal government, Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion said that severing ties with the Iran over human rights and nuclear armament concerns was counterproductive, indicating Ottawa would soon reestablish its relationship with Tehran.

“Canada’s severing of ties with Iran had no positive consequences for anyone: not for Canadians, not for the people of Iran, not for Israel, and not for global security,” Dion said Tuesday at a University of Ottawa conference according to the Canadian Press.

Opening the event, Dion introduced what he called “responsible conviction,” a new approach to foreign affairs as part of the policy agenda of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was elected in October last year.

While the fresh approach would incorporate some policies enacted by Canada’s former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper, whose government was noted for its staunch pro-Israel and anti-Iran line, Dion said Trudeau would seek to end the “disengagement” of the previous government.

“Today, Canada must return to Iran to play a useful role in that region of the world, while remaining vigilant about embassy security issues in Tehran and elsewhere,” Dion told conference participants.

Canada closed its Tehran Embassy and expelled Iranian diplomats in 2012, in protest over the country’s nuclear program, its belligerent stance toward Israel and support for the Syrian regime.

In January, shortly after being named foreign minister, Dion said Ottawa would quickly seek to lift sanctions on Iran and restore full ties.

On Tuesday, Dion said Canada would not “be silent or inactive when we see Iran move in the wrong direction.”

Justin Trudeau shortly after winning Canada's general election, October 20, 2015. (AFP/Nicholas Kamm)
Justin Trudeau shortly after winning Canada’s general election, October 20, 2015. (AFP/Nicholas Kamm)

“Canada will continue to steadfastly oppose Iran’s support for terrorist organizations, its threats toward Israel, and its ballistic missile program, while also monitoring Iran’s compliance with its obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” he said, referring to the nuclear agreement that allowed for the lifting of international sanctions levied on the Islamic republic over its disputed nuclear program.

Trudeau’s government will maintain restrictions on exports of nuclear goods and technologies and anything that could help Iran in the development of ballistic missiles, officials said last month.

In January, Canada announced an end to its airstrikes targeting the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria and said it would bring home its six fighter jets participating in the US-led bombing raids.

Instead, Trudeau vowed the country will provide about 1 billion Canadian dollars ($718 million) in development and humanitarian aid over three years for the Mideast region.

AFP contributed to this report.

Most Popular
read more: