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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  • rate this

    Comment number 415.

    Embassies are supposed to be sovereign territory - whatever the differences there are between countries. Iran shows time after time that it cannot be trusted to respect this basic fact and therefore, we have no option but to act as we have done. The safety of our diplomatic staff must come first.

  • Comment number 414.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 413.

    to limeylady
    western hypocrite politicians have for thousands of years been continuing to bite muslims from back. they never have the courage to fight face to face. so they push someone else forward as a smokescreen. we see that US and other western power have assaulted Afghanstan, Iraq, n Libya. in all of this occasions they have pushed a relatively tinyl portion of robbers ahead

  • rate this

    Comment number 412.

    Stupid Iranians.
    They will get soldiers instead of diplomats now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 411.

    395. powermeerkat

    China cannot lose a vital supplier of oil and gas like Iran. Openly stated by the chinese government.

    Probably China and Russia will not intervene in a war but they will surely supply Iran with weapons and satellite infos.

    It will be another Vietnam for the US and their poodles.
    And economic crisis due to oil price skyrocketing, explosion of the middle east. simply mad idea

  • rate this

    Comment number 410.

    350. Ausonio

    I think you underestimate the intelligence of the Russians.

    They are happy to sell uranium enrichment equipment to the Iranians, but that does not mean they are willing to sacrifice themselves for Iran. If Iran's leaders dig a hole for themselves, the Russians will watch them fall into it. Russia has not survived for 1,000+ years by joining in foolish wars.

  • rate this

    Comment number 409.

    As an Iranian I'm really sad to read the news.Those attacked the embassy are not ordinary people.That's the fake image for a political game initiated by a group linked to the regime itself.The majority of the Iranians are different from those linked to the Iranian government.We're just ordinary people hoping for peace & freedom.Yet, we suffer from the international image presented by the regime.

  • rate this

    Comment number 408.

    When will London stop taking orders from Israel? I wonder when my government will stop taking orders from both London and Israel. America is in a drastic change. We The People are beginning to see the truth of our government and who truly pulls the strings. Will the British subjects experience the same enlightenment...that they all live in a quasi-feudal system?

  • Comment number 407.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 406.

    Its about time the UK started showing Iran abit of backbone, Iran supplied arms to the terrorists in iraq which was proven several times, they kidnap our sailors, a nut case of a leader that thinks he can take on the whole world.

    As a result of the invasion of our embassy we should go even further and impose all possible sanctions against Iran.

  • rate this

    Comment number 405.

    @314 Kristina:

    I'm glad for your sake that you support your country's (Russia) foreign policy. If you didn't, YOU WOULD BE MURDERED!

    Ask any dissenting Russian journalist... oh wait, you cant... they're all dead!

  • rate this

    Comment number 404.

    Ah Kristina,

    I know quite a few russians but only two iranian born people. More tears are likely from the two iranians in sympathy for anyone hurting than all the russians I ever met. Hardy lot the russians.

  • rate this

    Comment number 403.

    I can`t believe some of the comments here.
    Our Mainstream media has done a great job in filling the minds of the British public with lies.
    I urge people to do your research.
    Example: Britain and France in November of 2010 had a War-game in plan for Libya.
    The no-fly zone....the lot.
    The plan is to take over the middle east
    If someone can show me how to link, i`ll give the proof of the War-game.

  • Comment number 402.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 401.

    AM 329
    The UK is one of the worlds biggest arms exporters and most of these arms are bought by Arabic countries ie Saudi Arabia, and numerous others .Israel, gets its arms from the US or make their own. At the end of WW2 The state of ISRAEL was born through pressure from Truman and Stalin .When the UN vote took place the UK abstained.
    Israel WILL potect its self.

  • rate this

    Comment number 400.

    what about Israels illegal nuclear arsenal? don't hear hague talking about that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 399.

    Iran is a rogue state -Fact! They are unable to interact with any other nation on a mature,and open level. Yes, they should and could have nuclear power if they were able to prove their integrity and honesty. Thus far they have only proven to be deceptive and dishonest - the UN report says so. Can't remember us climbing the walls and burning their embassy and flag! Ops, well the SAS did.

  • rate this

    Comment number 398.

    Russian beautiful country. We love and want to live in peace. We know what war is and what is hate when Russian abroad, but we are still beautiful, kind and intelligent nation that wants peace .. just peace .. peace. But if the U.S. and Europe imagined that they could attack the other country, as it is ...?? is it the victory of democracy in the world??

  • rate this

    Comment number 397.

    Now I know what I have suspected for 18 months - we are truly governed by a group of blind imbeciles who are incapable of rational thought.
    I suppose Dave is trying to emulate Thatcher's Falklands (Malvinas) adventure?.

  • rate this

    Comment number 396.

    Does anyone else worry about the international motivations of Conservative Atlantic Bridge supporters and Mr Hague? Not exactly a bridge builder when it comes to dealing with less powerful places, is he? Nothing to do with those countries his transatlantic pals take donations from, of course.
    Iran should have more sense than to feed the West's designs.


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