Canada Further Tightens Sanctions in Iran

May 29, 2013

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement:

“Canada’s grave and sincere concern over Iran’s nuclear program again compels us to act decisively.

“In round after round of talks with both the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] and the P5+1 [the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany], Iran has failed to engage meaningfully while the risk posed by its enrichment activities only increases.

“The absence of progress with both the P5+1 and the IAEA leads Canada to ban, effective immediately, all imports to and exports from Iran. We are also adding a further 30 individuals and 82 entities to Canada’s list of designated persons under the Special Economic Measures Act.

“Canada, like many of our closest allies, is making every possible effort to halt Iran’s reckless pursuit of their nuclear-weapons capabilities. The path of nuclear non-compliance will only bring further isolation for Ayatollah Khameini’s clerical, military dictatorship. We will continue to look for ways to reduce the negative impacts on the people of Iran, including humanitarian exemptions.”

Canada continues to support the P5+1 process. The group has worked patiently with Iran, in good faith, toward a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the nuclear question. To date, however, the regime has responded only with escalation and provocation, false promises and empty gestures. This was most recently the case following talks in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

The individuals and entities being listed today are believed to be engaged in activities that directly or indirectly facilitate, support, provide funding for or could contribute to Iran’s proliferation-sensitive nuclear activities, or are associates of, or are owned and controlled by, or acting on behalf of, such persons.

For more information, please see Regulations Amending the Special Economic Measures (Iran).

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A backgrounder follows.

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Backgrounder - Additional Sanctions on Iran

In addition to imposing a ban on all imports to and exports from Iran, effective immediately, the individuals and entities announced today will be subject to an assets freeze and a prohibition on economic dealings. With these new measures, the total number of designated persons rises to 78 individuals and 508 entities.

Canada’s new sanctions include exemptions to ensure that the rich people-to-people connections between Canada and Iran continue to grow, and that ties of family and friendship are not broken by the regime’s increasing isolation.

Canada’s new sanctions include exemptions for technologies that protect Iranians online and help them break through the regime’s curtain of propaganda.

Canada’s sanctions exempt food, medicine, medical equipment, and humanitarian goods to ensure that—if the regime decides to invest in the basic needs of the Iranian people—international obstacles are reduced.


On December 11, 2012, Canada announced further sanctions against Iran under the Special Economic Measures Act in response to Iran’s continued lack of cooperation with the IAEA and the P5+1 group (UNSC permanent members + Germany), which has engaged in negotiations with Iran on its nuclear program, and to maintain unity and consistency with the latest measures adopted by the European Union and other countries.

The new measures impose an assets freeze and dealings prohibition on 98 new entities of proliferation concern, and one additional individual. They also prohibited the export to Iran of different types of goods used in the shipbuilding, mineral exploration, mining, metal production, and telecommunications industries; vessels designed to transport or store crude oil or its products; hard currency totalling more than $40,000 in value; and new goods of proliferation concern.

The expanded measures also prohibited the import of natural gas, oil, and petroleum or petrochemical products from Iran; the provision of marketing and other financial or related services in respect of certain prohibited goods; the provision of flagging or classification services to Iranian oil tankers or cargo vessels; and the provision of insurance and reinsurance to Iran or any entity in Iran.

In order to relieve some of the pressure on ordinary Iranians and on Iranian immigrants to Canada with members of their immediate family living in Iran, the Iran Regulations were also amended to allow all financial banking transactions of $40,000 and under between family members in Canada and family members in Iran.

On January 31, 2012, Canada expanded its sanctions against Iran, to add five new entities and three individuals to the list of designated persons. They joined a long list of supporters and associates of the Iranian regime whose assets have been frozen. These sanctions cover the known leadership of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and block virtually all financial transactions with Iran, including those with the Central Bank.

On November 22, 2011, in response to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s assessment of Iran’s nuclear program, Canada imposed new sanctions under the Special Economic Measures Act (SEMA).

These regulations:                                             

  • prohibit financial transactions with Iran, subject to certain exceptions;
  • expand the list of prohibited goods to include all goods used in the petrochemical, oil and gas industry in Iran;
  • amend the list of prohibited goods to include additional items that could be used in Iran’s nuclear program;
  • add new individuals and entities to the list of designated persons found in Schedule 1 of the Iran Regulations, prohibiting dealings with these persons and entities; and
  • remove certain entities that have been recommended for removal by the Minister of Foreign Affairs that no longer present a proliferation concern for Canada.

The prohibitions on financial transactions and goods used in the petrochemical, oil and gas industry in Iran do not apply to contracts entered into prior to November 22, 2011.

Canadians with relatives living in Iran will still be able to send funds to family members, provided those relatives are not listed individuals and provided transactions do not exceed $40,000.

On October 18, 2011, Canada imposed sanctions on a further five Iranian individuals, four of whom are members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard-Qods Force (the Iranian special forces).

In July 2010, Canada implemented sanctions against Iran under the SEMA . These sanctions prohibit all of the following:

  • dealing with designated individuals and entities, such as dealing in any property, or making any goods or financial or related services available to a designated individual or entity;
  • exporting or otherwise providing to Iran arms and related materials not already banned, items that could contribute to Iran’s proliferation activities, and items used in refining oil and gas;
  • providing technical data related to these goods;
  • making any new investment in the Iranian oil and gas sector, or providing or acquiring financial services for this purpose;
  • providing or acquiring financial services to allow an Iranian financial institution (or a branch, subsidiary or office) to be established in Canada, or vice versa;
  • establishing correspondent banking relationships with Iranian financial institutions, or purchasing any debt from the Government of Iran; and
  • providing services for the operation or maintenance of a vessel owned or controlled by, or operating on behalf of, the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines.

The Special Economic Measures (Iran) Permit Authorization Order (SOR/2010-166), made pursuant to subsection 4(4) of the Special Economic Measures Act authorizes the Minister of Foreign Affairs to issue a permit to any person in Canada or any Canadian outside Canada to carry out a specified activity or transaction, or any class of activity or transaction, that is restricted or prohibited pursuant to the Special Economic Measures (Iran) Regulations.

Existing UN Sanctions

Since 2006, the United Nations Security Council has imposed four rounds of sanctions against Iran in response to its nuclear program. Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, the Security Council adopted resolutions 1737 (2006), 1747 (2007), 1803 (2008) and 1929 (2010) imposing sanctions against Iran in response to the proliferation risks presented by Iran’s nuclear program and in light of Iran’s continuing failure to comply with its binding legal obligations to the IAEA through its NPT Safeguards Agreement and to comply with the provisions of earlier Security Council resolutions. These resolutions require Iran to fully cooperate with the IAEA and to suspend all uranium enrichment-related and reprocessing activities.

The Regulations Implementing the United Nations Resolutions on Iran implement the decisions of the Security Council in Canadian domestic law. Implementation of the travel bans imposed by resolutions 1803 (2008) and 1929 (2010) is ensured in Canada under existing provisions of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Other Measures

On September 7, 2012—in light of the Iranian regime’s increase of military aid to the Assad regime in Syria, Iran’s refusal to comply with UN resolutions pertaining to the country’s nuclear program, its deplorable human rights record and anti-Semitic rhetoric—Canada announced the closure of the Canadian embassy in Iran and the expulsion of Iranian diplomats from Canada. All Canadian diplomatic staff left Iran, and Iranian diplomats in Ottawa, were instructed to leave within five days.

For the past 10 years, Canada has been the lead co-sponsor of the annual resolution at the UN General Assembly on the situation of human rights in Iran. The 2011 resolution highlighted long-standing violations of human rights by the Iranian authorities, such as the persistent discrimination against and violation of the fundamental human rights of women and girls, stoning and amputation, widespread discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities, and media censorship and harassment of human rights defenders, including women’s rights activists. Canada has pledged to continue to stand with the people of Iran against the oppression from the Iranian authorities.

The 2010 resolution was co-sponsored by 42 other UN member states and was supported by 89, with only 32 member states voting against. This represented the largest margin ever in favour of the annual resolution, signalling the international community’s deepening concern with the human rights situation in Iran.