Britain shuttered the Iranian embassy in London and given the Iranian ambassador and his staff 48 hours to leave, saying it believed the Tuesday attack by protesters on the British embassy in Tehran was conducted with the consent of the Iranian government.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague told the UK Parliament that Iran has been ordered to close its embassy in London immediately, following a penetration, vandalization, and hostage-taking at the British embassy in Tehran. British flags were burned, windows were broken, offices were ransacked and property was stolen The perpetrators were a crowd of over 200 people which gathered in protest of British sanctions on their country brought on by Iran’s continued non-compliance with international demands to halt its nuclear weapons program.
Hague said Iranian authorities should and could have protected the British embassy, and that the attack must have occurred with “some degree of regime consent.” While Iranian police did not stop protesters from storming the embassy, they ultimately fired tear gas on the crowd to disperse it and freed the 6 hostages. Iran’s Foreign Ministry apologized for the “unacceptable behavior of a few demonstrators.”
British sanctions on Iran include a ban for banks and financial institutions to deal with Iran or its central bank, and may now extend to a ban on oil imports from the country. However, Hague emphasized that this is not a total severing of diplomatic relations.
The UN Security Council, the US, Germany, Poland, Russia and France have all condemned the attack on Britain’s embassy.
Iran has issued a warning to Britain that it might retaliate for the closure of the Iranian embassy in London. In Tehran, Germany has offered to take over consular duties for Britain.