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Canada tightens economic measures against Iran, IRGC

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John Baird

Canada tightened economic measures against Iran again last week, adding 98 more companies, individuals and entities under the Special Economic Measures Act (SEMA).

Among those added to the list include the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Basij, a paramilitary offshoot of the guard corps charged with suppressing dissidents.

The Dec. 11 announcement by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird brings the total number of those listed under SEMA’s Iran provisions to 50 individuals and 433 entities since 2010.

All listed people and businesses are “subject to an assets freeze and a prohibition on economic dealings,” according to the ministry.

“Canada’s measures also target economic sectors that indirectly support or provide funds for Iran’s nuclear program: oil and gas, mining, metals, and shipping. The amended regulations further isolate Iran from the global financial system,” Baird said in a statement.

“The Iranian regime must address, with urgent and concrete action, the international community’s grave concerns over its nuclear activities.”

Both Canadian Jewish communal organizations and opposition parties in Parliament said while these amendments to SEMA are a necessary step in sanctioning Iran, the action doesn’t go far enough.

In a statement, David Koschitzky, chair of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) said the Jewish community “applauds” Baird’s move, but more needs to be done.

“It is crucial that Canada and the international community use every available diplomatic and economic tool to bring the Iranian regime into compliance with international law and end its illegal nuclear program,” he said. “We believe that adding the IRGC as a listed terrorist entity under the Anti-terrorism Act is an important additional step Canada should take in confronting the Iranian threat.”

Liberal foreign affairs critic Dominic Leblanc and Liberal human rights critic Irwin Cotler – who has long called for the IRGC to be listed as a terrorist entity – both asked for additional actions from the government.

The IRGC is “at the epicentre of the Iranian regime’s manifold threats to its citizens, namely, domestic repression and human rights abuses, state-sanctioned incitement to genocide, nuclear proliferation and support for state-sanctioned international terrorism,” Cotler said.

“By failing to list the IRGC directly, this government’s sanctions against the Iranian regime will not promote the meaningful change so desperately needed for the Iranian people,” he added.

On CBC News Network’s Power and Politics on Dec. 11, NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar said while his party supports the measures, it called for this action three months ago.

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