Canada freezes trade with Iran over nuclear program, human rights

Wed May 29, 2013 4:35pm EDT
 
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada will freeze all remaining trade with Iran to protest the Tehran's nuclear ambitions and its human rights record, Foreign Minister John Baird said on Wednesday.

Canada, which has had increasingly poor relations with Iran for more than a decade, had already imposed a series of trade sanctions. In 2012, bilateral trade was worth around C$135 million ($130 million).

Baird said Canada was particularly concerned by the failure of the United Nations' nuclear agency this month to persuade Iran to let it resume an investigation into suspected atomic bomb research.

"The absence of progress ... leads Canada to ban effectively immediately all imports and exports from Iran," Baird told reporters.

Last September, Canada suspended diplomatic ties with Tehran, calling Iran the biggest threat to global security.

"Canada continues to have grave and sincere concerns over Iran's nuclear program, and their abhorrent human rights record and their continued support for international terrorism around the world," Baird said.

Statistics Canada data for 2012 shows exports to Iran were worth around C$95 million, mostly in the form of cereals, oil seeds and fruit as well as chemical products and some machinery. Iranian exports totaled C$40 million with fruits, nuts and textiles dominating.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Sandra Maler)

 
Canada's Foreign Minister John Baird pauses while speaking to journalists at the Lester B. Pearson Building in Ottawa May 28, 2013. REUTERS/Chris Wattie