UK: All Iranian diplomats must leave Britain within 48 hrs

British FM Hague tells parliament he has ordered the Iranian embassy in London closed, all Iranian staff must leave; announcement comes minutes after Cameron says UK weighing "very tough action."

By JPOST.COM STAFF, REUTERS
November 30, 2011 15:57
3 minute read.
Benjamin Netanyahu

Bibi netanyahu. (photo credit: JPost Staff)

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague told the British parliament Wednesday that he has ordered the Iranian Embassy in London to close. He added that Iranian diplomats will be given 48 hours to leave the country.

Earlier Wednesday the UK said it had withdrawn some diplomatic staff from Tehran after protesters stormed and ransacked its embassy in the Iranian capital.

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The events came in response to Iran's decision to expel the UK ambassador in response to economic sanctions imposed by Britain on Tehran.

Hague also told British parliamentarians that all UK-based British diplomatic staff had been evacuated from Iran prior to his announcement Wednesday.

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Noting its seriousness, Hauge told lawmakers, however, that the move did not amount to a complete severing of relations with the Islamic Republic. Consular issues, he said, would be handled by other European missions in Tehran.

Earlier Wednesday,
UK Prime Minister David Cameron said Britain was considering taking "very tough action" after protesters stormed the country's embassy in Iran.

Cameron said his main concern was ensuring the safety of British embassy staff.


"After that we will consider taking some very tough action in response to this completely appalling and disgraceful behavior by the Iranians," Cameron told parliament.


"The prime minister and foreign secretary have made clear that ensuring the safety of our staff and their families is our immediate priority," the UK Foreign Office said in a statement.

"In light of yesterday's events, and to ensure their ongoing safety, some staff are leaving Tehran," it added.

Earlier, Western diplomatic sources in Tehran told Reuters that Britain had evacuated all its diplomatic staff from Iran.


The UN Security Council released a statement Tuesday condemning the protesters' actions "in the strongest terms." UNSC President Jose Filipe Moraes Cabral expressed the council members' "deep concern over the attacks" and called on the "Iranian authorities to protect diplomatic and consular property and personnel."

The speaker of Iran's parliament Wednesday criticized the Security Council statement  and said it put global security at risk. "The hasty move in the Security Council in condemning the students' actions was done to cover up previous crimes of America and Britain while the police did all they could to keep the peace," Ali Larijani told parliament in an address broadcast live on state radio.

"This devious action will lead to instability in global security," he said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron chaired a meeting of the government crisis committee Tuesday to discuss the attacks which he said were "outrageous and indefensible."

"The failure of the Iranian government to defend British staff and property was a disgrace," he said in a statement.

"The Iranian government must recognize that there will be serious consequences for failing to protect our staff. We will consider what these measures should be in the coming days."

The United States, alongside the European Union and many of its member states also strongly condemned the attacks.


China also criticized the storming of the compounds in Tehran Wednesday, opening a rare public crack in outwardly amicable relations with Iran.

"China has always maintained that the safety and dignity of diplomatic personnel and properties must be ensured and protected," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news briefing in Beijing, in answer to a question about the incident.

"The attacks in question were contrary to international law and rules, and they should be appropriately dealt with," he said.


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