Britain expels Iranian diplomats and closes Tehran embassy

The Guardian reports: The foreign secretary, William Hague, has ordered the expulsion of Iranian diplomats from the UK and announced that the UK is closing its embassy in Tehran, saying that the storming of the mission on Tuesday had the backing of the regime.

Hague said Iranian diplomats would have to leave Britain within 48 hours, and that all British embassy staff in Tehran had now left Iran.

He said that the move would not mean the severance of all ties, as the two countries could continue to have a dialogue at international meetings, as the US has done since the seizure and closure of its embassy in 1979, but the move marks a new low in relations, which have been growing increasingly strained.

The foreign secretary said it was not possible to maintain an embassy in the current circumstances, adding that the estimated 200 protesters who invaded the embassy and the British diplomatic compound yesterday were “student basij militia”. The basiji operate as a youth wing of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, one of the most powerful institutions in the country.

Hague said it would be “fanciful” to think that the embassy invasion could have taken place without “without some degree of regime consent”.

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