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 395.

    "Another crazy war for the sake of Israel which is the real master in Washington and London.

    China, this time, would not allow such a move without responding.

    The same for Russia. Russia is tired of the american and zionist etc."

    Anybody in Bejing wants 1.4 billion Chinese to become a cannon fodder?

    While Moscow regime has only 140 million at its disposal?

    Dream on, comrade!

  • rate this

    Comment number 394.

    @380 Scholesy

    Your mentality is a shining example of what is wrong in this world. But don't and your ilk will lead to someone using nuclear bombs. That seems to be what your type of ignorance wants..

  • rate this

    Comment number 393.

    Besides Israeli's geopolitical needs and histery...

    Iran is the next country guilty of wanting to get rid of the dollar.
    Others like Lybia and Iraq ... well, we know what happened.

    But another war will not help the US.

    One day, the world, notably Russia, India, China, Japan, will stop accepting the dollar which is money created out of thin air.

    The US will bankrupt for sure.

  • rate this

    Comment number 392.

    I am surprised the left wing anti British BBC is leting anyone say anything about a middle east country, this thing is worse thsan Press TV, that joke station from Tehran, and th word joke sums up Iran, a pariah state contributing nothing to the world apart from hatred and mudrer. And this blame the zionist tosh so getting so tedious, change the record.

  • rate this

    Comment number 391.

    What is the world coming to, we live in the 21st century with so much technology yet we can't even live together in peace!! We could be really helping each other but yet again religion gets in the way, live and let live please.

  • Comment number 390.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 389.

    More posturing by boys drumming up excuses for war. We really do not want this and nor do the Iranians.

  • rate this

    Comment number 388.

    Im afriad the British "stiff-upper-lip" (as said in a previous comment) had to go when other countries start taking advantage of it. I say up defence spending - it's the biggest single employer in the world by a huge margin and employment will fall, the economic benefits of manufacturing our own weapons and defence would be huge and countries like Iran wouldn't dare touch us.

  • Comment number 387.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 386.

    When are the western powers going to stop playing games with these crazy regimes, and just send in the military ? I hope North Korea gets dealt a lesson soon too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 385.

    When nations downgrade or cut diplomatic relations, it is often a step on the path to war.

    Several comments state that neither side wants war. Unfortunately, I suspect that is more a hope than an objective observation.

    One side, clearly, does want war. It's just a question of when.

  • rate this

    Comment number 384.

    we should never let them produce any thing to do with nuclear they cant be trusted with that much power end of!!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 383.


    Aaaaah, that good old "two wrongs make a right" logic.

    Why don't we just give everyone on the planet a gun and let them just kill who ever they don't like.

    That would sort the worlds problems... oh... wait...

  • rate this

    Comment number 382.

    All this childish diplomatic posturing and endless sanctions only serves to increase these countries distrust/hatred of us. Help them build reactors, build a positive relationship. Iran: we're not all idiots here, but sadly most are.

    @Mark: Well done! Quite possibly the only person with half a brain on here. Ignore the downvotes, they just show all that is wrong with our people and government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 381.

    Iran is a rogue state - but is still strongly supported by Russia and China. That's the real problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 380.

    I can't wait until Iran develops a nuclear weapon. Hopefully, it'll put an end to Israeli atrocities.

    How many Palestinian women and children did the Israeli's dissolve with white phosphorus during the 2008 Gaza slaughter?

    Where was the international condemnation; the economic sanctions imposed on Israel for breaking international law?

    We're riding with the devil.

  • Comment number 379.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 378.

    Add your comment...Think about:
    Margaret Thatcher told about Russia: "There should be 50 million people in Russia, only. It will be enough for us".
    Madlene Olbrait told about Russia: "it is unfair that in Russia there are many resources, but not enough for Europe"
    My question: is it normal? Do u think that Russia will cry for USA and EU now?

  • rate this

    Comment number 377.

    All Propaganda and yet again the British people are falling for it.
    They lied about Iraq. Our troops and civilians died.
    They lied about Afghanistan. Our troops and civilians died.
    They lied about Libya Killing 30,000 people and helped a Coup by rebels.

    Our government along with the US and NATO are totally out of control.
    They`re owned by the big corporations and wont stop till they have it all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 376.

    Kristina, I think I love you. Why aren't there more people like you that talk sense. When I read some of the comments, I think I must belong to another race of people. Some comments are not based on any facts, but are so full of hate. The Iranian people are good people, family people. So kind. Always wanting to help others and give whatever they have. That is the people I know.


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