UK to expel all Iranian diplomats over embassy attack


Foreign Secretary William Hague: "We require the immediate closure of the Iranian embassy in London"

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The UK is to expel all Iranian diplomats following the storming of its embassy in Tehran, Foreign Secretary William Hague has announced.

He said he had ordered the immediate closure of the Iranian embassy in London.

Tuesday's attack by hundreds of protesters followed Britain's decision to impose further sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme.

The sanctions led to Iran's parliament reducing diplomatic ties with the UK.

Mr Hague said he was demanding the immediate closure of the Iranian embassy in London, with all its staff to leave the UK within 48 hours.

"If any country makes it impossible for us to operate on their soil they cannot expect to have a functioning embassy here," Mr Hague told MPs.

He said there had been "some degree of regime consent" in the attacks on the embassy and on another UK diplomatic compound in Tehran.

He said all UK diplomatic staff in Tehran had been evacuated and the embassy closed.

Mr Hague said relations between the UK and Iran were now at their lowest level, but the UK was not severing relations with Tehran entirely.


In Iran's iconography of villainy, Britain holds a special place. The UK is seen as the mastermind behind the overthrow of previous Iranian governments. Conservative hardliners believe Britain has in its blood the desire to decide who rules Iran.

But, somehow, Britain and Iran have usually managed to keep their diplomatic relations going. Among ordinary Iranians there is a degree of affection for British people.

During the administration of President Mohammad Khatami, which began in 1997, diplomatic ties produced a reasonable degree of understanding. But in recent years, under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, those ties grew much more strained.

Now the drawbridge has been pulled up. The empty embassies in London and Tehran won't bother conservative hardliners in Iran's establishment. They feel little need for dialogue. These are the same people who have led Iran's pursuit of a nuclear programme.

Addressing parliament, Mr Hague said he was due to raise the matter at a meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels.

"We will discuss these events and further action which needs to be taken in the light of Iran's continued pursuit of a nuclear weapons programme," he said.

Iran's foreign ministry called the British move "hasty", state TV reported, according to Reuters.

It said Iran would take "further appropriate action".

Also on Wednesday, Germany, France and the Netherlands announced they were recalling their ambassadors to Tehran for consultation and Norway said it was temporarily closing its embassy there as a precaution.

Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said the Iranian ambassador to Rome was being summoned to give guarantees of security for Italy's mission in Tehran.

Hundreds of protesters - whom Iran described as "students" - massed outside the embassy compound on Tuesday afternoon before scaling the walls and the gates, burning British flags and a car.

Another UK diplomatic compound in northern Tehran, known locally as Qolhak Garden, was also overrun and damaged.

Iran's parliament speaker, Ali Larijani, says Iranian police attempted to stop the attacks

Iran said it regretted the incident, which it described as "unacceptable behaviour by a small number of protesters".

Mr Hague said the majority of those taking part had been members of a regime-backed Basij militia group.

He said the private quarters of staff and the ambassador had been ransacked, the main embassy office set on fire and personal possessions belonging to UK diplomats stolen.

The US, EU and UN Security Council also condemned the attacks.

Turbulent history

Relations between the UK and the Islamic Republic of Iran have been fraught since the Iranian revolution in 1979.

Wednesday's move brings bilateral relations to their lowest level since 1989 when ties were broken over Iran's declaration of a "fatwa" (edict) to kill the author Salman Rushdie.

Office at British embassy in Tehran ransacked. 29 Nov 2011 New pictures have emerged of offices at the British embassy being searched by protesters

Analysts have compared Tuesday's scenes in Tehran to the 1979 storming of the US embassy there. That ended with more than 50 US diplomats and staff being held hostage for more than 400 days.

The US and Iran have had no diplomatic ties since then - the Swiss embassy in Tehran serves as the protecting power for US interests in the country.

Last week the US, Canada and the UK announced new sanctions against Iran, including measures to restrict the activities of the Iranian central bank.

The UK said then it was severing all financial ties with Iran.

The move followed a report by the UN's nuclear watchdog (IAEA) that said Iran had carried out tests "relevant to the development of a nuclear device".

Iran denies the accusations, saying its nuclear programme is solely for peaceful purposes.

On Sunday, Iran's parliament voted by a large majority to downgrade diplomatic relations with the UK in response to the recent action.


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  • Comment number 335.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 334.

    Iran has a history of violating normal diplomatic relations. It will be a shame if this leads to war, war is the greatest waste of resources, the greatest folly of mankind.

  • Comment number 333.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 332.

    Everything the West does is evil and everything Iran does - given its superb record on human rights for its own people, especially women - is justified and fantastic. And the UK and US are the only nations intent on using weapons. Iran have never promoted violence towards there enemies.



    Float your boat? That's that solved then.

  • rate this

    Comment number 331.

    "Israel, Pakistan and India all have WMDs thanks to US help"

    Nice try buy no cigar.

    Israel obtained its nuclear technology from France. Pakistan stole its in Western Europe (Khan Ring). India got its nuclear wherewithal from its then staunch ally - Soviet Union.

    [the same one which armed Saddam Hussein's of Iraq and Hafez Assad's of Syria's homicidal regimes for many decades.]

  • rate this

    Comment number 330.

    The moral hypocrisy of the UK government is sickening..

  • rate this

    Comment number 329.

    MR.TRUCULENT - Iranian embasy attacked in the 80 by terrorists- UK embassy was attacked by umarmed students.
    UK dealt with the terrorists. Iranian police dealt with the student and their govt apologised.You said "The UK tend to be on no side in middle east policies". Believe me no one believes that in the mid east .You said "But Israel will strike you hard." Not very unbaised are you?

  • rate this

    Comment number 328.

    Iranians hate their gov.their political men are incompetent .Iranians have no problem with any countries. they respect to different cultures and religions , they are pacific people Iranian gov is much more violent than Besher Asad gov,that's why Iranian couldnt continue their protests against the gov Iranian gov throw atomic bombs on Iranians head if they think this will help them to survive!

  • rate this

    Comment number 327.

    May as well just leave Iran for now. Would Iran really be stupid enough to attack USA or the UK?We should only attack Iran if they attack us.None has really taken into account what China,Russia and India would do.Also some of you are under the misconception that US and UK are on their own. They are not. If push came to shove numerous countries would fight with the UK and USA. Look at WW1 and WW2.

  • rate this

    Comment number 326.

    Some people saying that if western governments have nukes why shouldn't Iran. Seriously!
    Well for one the western governments haven't said that they want a country (Israel) wiped off the face of the earth. Two, the western nations have been reducing their nuclear arsenal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 325.


    If you give your lunatic neighbour who hates you a gun, don't be surprised if you get shot.

  • rate this

    Comment number 324.

    Iran will get what's coming to them. But it wont be Israel, they know they cannot guarantee success in destroying all the Iranian wmd sites...otherwise they would have ages ago. I predict NATO with approval of the Arab states.

    And when armadillojad gets it.....I won't shed a tear. Iran has made its own destiny as Saddam did before....

  • rate this

    Comment number 323.

    there's a lot of pro iranian sentiment being expressed on here, maybe they should go live in iran as you like it so much, whats stopping you? the lack of basic human rights, or the lack of a benifit system, bite the hand that feeds you and claim civil libertys, iranian people have only what the ruling elite let them have, if iran wanted to stop the attack they would of, brutaly and violently.

  • rate this

    Comment number 322.

    An embassy is sovereign territory of the country it represents, therefore this breach constitutes a direct invasion of British territory. You cannot expect to invade another country's territory and not have it expel your diplomats. As Iran has proved very effective at suppressing protests when it wants to, let's not pretend this wasn't orchestrated by the authorities.

  • rate this

    Comment number 321.

    4 Minutes ago
    Hmmm, how many countries has Iran attacked since 1945? How many have US/UK attacked? .. such as the 1953 coup d'├ętat orchestrated by US/UK.//

    Mmmm - remind ME, how many people get stoned to death for adultery here? Many of us seeking asylum over there? And blaming 'us' for 1953 is as racist and stupid as blaming Germans fo.r 1939

  • rate this

    Comment number 320.

    Fed up with the UK and US bully tactics. If the Iranians want Nuclear Power and weapons, thats up to them. As for the IAEA, why don't they hassle the Yanks as they have not submitted to all the measures prescribed many years ago. Absolute joke.

    Lets not forget, Iran, whatever you may think of them, have not invaded another country in how long ? - Exactly ! Some people here are blind.

  • rate this

    Comment number 319.

    Iranian leaders have shown scant respect for international, legal norms. Sanctions are the only way to get the country to follow the straight and narrow. If Iranian leaders continue belligerent policies which threaten international peace, the Security Council has to take punitive measures against Iran. Iranian leaders have miscalculated badly. The world needs to speak with one voice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 318.

    The problem is: religious totalitarianism - which generally leads to stagnant growth, poverty, ignorance and human rights abuses. Don't blame the Iranians who are good people. Blame their regime which doesn't allow them to flourish. As for "stealing oil" - every oil producing country receives huge oil revenue. Some spend it on schools, hospitals and roads, some spend it on nuclear programs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 317.

    Re #268: "Try make friends with our enemies. Sure fire way not to be targeted in the future."

    All right, this is it!
    l'll talk to this Humungus!
    He's a reasonable man
    open to negotiation.
    Curmudgeon (1981 post-apocalyptic Australian wasteland)

  • Comment number 316.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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