Canada will keep its sanctions in place – at least for now – despite the nuclear agreement Iran has reached with major world powers.
Foreign Affairs Minister Rob Nicholson issued a statement saying that Canada “will continue to judge Iran by its actions not its words,” and that the government in Ottawa will examine the agreement carefully before making any policy changes.
“We will examine this deal further before taking any specific Canadian action,” Mr. Nicholson said in the statement.
That means Canada is refusing to follow the course set by its major allies, including not only the Obama Administration in the U.S., but Britain, France, and the European Union. They negotiated the deal with Iran as part of the “P5+1” group that also included China and Russia, and have agreed to lift economic sanctions in return for Tehran’s nuclear concessions.
But Prime Minister Stephen Harper was caught between two allies on this deal. While Washington pushed for a deal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned against it. So far, Mr. Harper is sticking with Mr. Netanyahu’s doubts – though Mr. Nicholson said that Canada appreciates the “efforts of the P5+1” to negotiate an agreement.
However, Canada’s refusal to lift sanctions will have little practical effect now. With the U.S. and Europe agreeing a series of measures to free Iran from asset freezes and trade restrictions, Canada’s own sanctions will have little impact on the Iranian economy.
Mr. Harper’s government has also been sharply critical of Iran, and it suspended diplomatic ties, closing the embassy in Tehran in 2012.