Britain withdraws diplomats from Iran after embassy attack
Britain is withdrawing diplomatic staff from Iran after a mob attacked its embassy and a residential compound in the Iranian capital.
The Foreign Office confirmed that some of its staff were leaving, but did not say who or how many. Nor did it say whether it would continue to have an embassy in Iran or maintain diplomatic relations with the country.
A spokesman said: “The prime minister and foreign secretary have made clear that ensuring the safety of our staff and their families is our immediate priority. In light of yesterday’s events, and to ensure their ongoing safety, some staff are leaving Tehran.
“We do not comment on our contingency plans. We will make an announcement about our embassy at an appropriate time.”
Protesters, including members of the paramilitary basij brigades, under the control of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, stormed the embassy, surging through lines of riot police to break into it and a separate residential compound, the Qolhak Gardens, in northern Tehran.
Staff locked themselves in their offices and homes as the crowd ripped the gilded UK crest off the embassy, pulled down the union flag to replace it with the Iranian flag, and threw satellite dishes off the roofs of embassy buildings. They also smashed windows and burned British, US and Israeli flags.
The scenes, reminiscent of the 1979 seizure of the US embassy, prompted the foreign secretary, William Hague, to accuse Iran of breaching the Vienna convention.
He said: “The United Kingdom takes this irresponsible action extremely seriously. It amounts to a grave breach of the Vienna convention which requires the protection of diplomats and diplomatic premises under all circumstances. We hold the Iranian government responsible for its failure to take adequate measures to protect our embassy, as it is required to do.”