Dion Signals Canada’s Intention to Lift Sanctions Against Iran

Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion said Canada intends to lift sanctions against Iran in the wake of its nuclear deal, potentially opening a lucrative new market for companies such as Montreal-based Bombardier Inc.

Dion, speaking Tuesday in the House of Commons, cited a United Nations request that sanctions be removed and blamed the previous Conservative government for closing Canada’s embassy in Tehran.

“Canada is not there in Iran, and it’s not good for the people of Iran,” Dion told lawmakers. “It’s not good for our strategic interests in the region, it’s not good for Israel. It’s good for nobody. We will change this policy.”

Iran is opening up to foreign investors after complying this month with demands by the U.S. and other nations that it curb its nuclear program, ending a decade of isolation.

Bombardier, Canada’s largest aerospace company, is eager to take advantage of the opening. It expects Iran to need about 300 planes over the next decade and is competing with firms such as Airbus Group SE for the orders.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani heads to Europe this week where he may sign a deal for more than 100 Airbus jets. Speaking to reporters outside the legislature, Dion said: “If Airbus is able to do it, why would Bombardier not be able to do it?”

It isn’t clear how quickly Canada will be able to lift sanctions, which were imposed following the UN’s lead in 2006 and repeatedly tightened under former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government.

“We are currently reviewing our sanctions regime on Iran,” Dion spokesman Nicolas Doire said in an e-mail. ’’We will exercise rigor in ensuring that any alterations to our sanctions do not open the door to trade in proliferative-sensitive goods and services.’’

Bombardier spokeswoman Marianella de la Barrera said the company took note of Dion’s statement and declined to comment further.

The federal government is also weighing a request by Bombardier for financial assistance with its troubled C Series jet program.

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