Canada closed its Tehran embassy and expelled Iranian diplomats on Friday, expressing concern for the mission’s safety and slamming Iran’s support for the Syrian regime and its threats against Israel.

“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,” Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said.

“Diplomatic relations between Canada and Iran have been suspended. All Canadian diplomatic staff have left Iran, and Iranian diplomats in Ottawa have been instructed to leave within five days.”

Canada did not cite a specific incident that caused the breakdown in ties, but issued a strongly worded attack on Tehran’s support for Bashar al-Assad’s pariah Syrian regime and its “incitement to genocide” against Israel.

Baird also attacked Tehran’s failure to account for its nuclear program, which Western powers allege is designed to give Iran a nuclear bomb, and accused the “Iranian regime” of promoting international terrorism.

He also warned Canadians, including dual national Canadian-Iranians, that Ottawa will not be able to provide assistance to them if they travel to Iran.

There was no immediate reaction from Tehran, but Iran had already threatened “reciprocal action” in May, when Canada closed the visa section in its Iranian embassy, one used by thousands of Iranians with ties to Canada.

An estimated 120,000 people of Iranian origin or descent live in Canada, according to official 2006 census data, and thousands of their relatives in Iran visit them every year.

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