A mob of Iranians, reportedly including members of the plain–clothes Basij militia, broke into the British Embassy compound in Tehran on November 29, vandalizing interiors, setting fires, and surrounding several embassy personnel for some time.
They were reportedly enraged by recent sanctions which Britain, along with the United States and Canada, imposed on the Iranian regime. The sanctions were adopted after a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency said that there was evidence the Iranian government had engaged in activities aimed at developing a nuclear weapon.
The United Nations Security Council, the European Union, Russia, China, France, Germany and other nations denounced the embassy attack in Iran. Germany and France both recalled their ambassadors, and Norway has closed its embassy.
President Barack Obama said that all are “deeply disturbed” by the assault. “That kind of behavior is not acceptable, and I strongly urge the Iranian government to hold those who are responsible to task. They have a responsibility to protect diplomatic outposts. That is a basic international obligation that all countries need to observe, and for rioters, essentially, to be able to overrun the embassy and set it on fire is an indication that the Iranian government is not taking its international obligations seriously.”
The British government has withdrawn its staff from the embassy in Tehran, and has announced it is closing the Iranian embassy in London. British Foreign Secretary William Hague said it was “fanciful” to believe “that this assault could have taken place without some degree of regime consent.”
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the attack on the British embassy in Tehran “is an affront, not only to the British people but to the international community. And we stand ready to help in any way that we can to make the point, as strongly as possible, that governments owe a duty to the diplomatic community to protect life and property, and we expect the Government of Iran to do so.”