Bloomberg News

Iran Protesters Storm U.K. Embassy as Diplomatic Spat Worsens

November 30, 2011

Nov. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Iranian protesters broke into and vandalized the British Embassy’s compound in Tehran, a week after the U.S. and U.K. imposed additional sanctions on the country over its nuclear program.

“We are outraged by this,” the Foreign Office in London said in an e-mailed statement. “It is utterly unacceptable.” It called on Iran’s government to urgently bring the situation under control.

Police were deployed to try to control the rally, at which dozens gathered and chanted slogans, including “death to the U.K.” and “the U.K. Embassy needs to be shut,” state-run Press TV reported from the scene, saying the site hadn’t been breached. State television said some protesters threw stones and Molotov cocktails inside the compound, breaking windows. The U.K. flag was burned and replaced with an Iranian flag, state- run Mehr news said. It said the staff left through a back door.

The Guardian Council, Iran’s highest legislative body, yesterday approved a bill passed by parliament to downgrade diplomatic relations with Britain, including the expulsion of the U.K.’s ambassador. The decision was prompted by the imposition by the U.K. last week of additional sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program, Iranian officials said.

Mass protests in 1979 forced Iran’s pro-U.S. Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to flee the country, which is now home to about 10 percent of the world’s oil reserves. The revolution, which handed power to the anti-Western Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, sent the price of Saudi Arabia’s Arab light crude to about $34 a barrel at the end of 1980 from $14 two years earlier, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“The fact Europe is going so hard on sanctions on Iran and Syria signals a new phase of Western diplomacy,” said Andrew Tabler, an analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

--With reporting by Donna Abu-Nasr in Manama, Bahrain. Editors: Heather Langan, Andrew J. Barden

To contact the reporter on this story: Ladane Nasseri in Dubai at lnasseri@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net.


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