Britain evacuates embassy staff from Iran

Posted on: November 30, 2011

Britain set in motion the withdrawal of some diplomatic staff and families from Tehran on Wednesday as Iran’s parliament speaker blamed Britain’s “domination-seeking” policies for the storming of British compounds by hard-line Iranian protesters the day before.

Norway, meanwhile, closed its embassy in Tehran due to security concerns after Tuesday’s assault on the British Embassy and a residential complex. Mobs hauled down British flags and ransacked offices in retaliation for Britain’s support of tighter sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.

Protestors remove the flag of the British embassy in Tehran on November 29, 2011. Iranian protesters stormed two British Embassy compounds in Tehran on Tuesday, smashing windows, hurling petrol bombs and burning the British flag in a protest against sanctions imposed by Britain, live Iranian television showed.   Reuters

In London, the Foreign Office said some diplomatic staff and dependents would leave Iran. But it declined to say how many people were being removed or give other details.

“Ensuring the safety of our staff and their families is our immediate priority,” said the statement. It noted some diplomatic work is ongoing, though the embassy is officially closed.

The Iranian government has expressed regret about “unacceptable behavior” of protesters, whose attacks began after anti-British demonstrations apparently authorized by authorities.

But Iran’s Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said that the “wrath of (students) resulted from several decades of domination-seeking behavior of Britain.”

Larijani — addressing an open session of parliament Wednesday — also called the U.N. Security Council’s condemnation of the embassy attack a “hasty move.”

Larijani’s comments reflect the deepening diplomatic crisis between Iran and Britain, whose relations have in the past gone through periods of upheavals. On Sunday, Iran’s parliament approved a bill to downgrade relations with Britain, one of America’s closest allies with diplomatic envoys in the Islamic Republic.


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