Britain is withdrawing some staff and dependents from its embassy in Tehran after it was stormed by Iranian protesters, some of whom tossed petrol bombs at the facility, the Foreign Office said on Wednesday.
It declined to say how many people were being removed or give other details, but insisted that “ensuring the safety of our staff and their families is our immediate priority.” Some diplomatic work is ongoing, though the embassy is officially closed.
Hardline protesters hauled down the Union Jack, set fire to an embassy vehicle and pelted buildings with petrol bombs on Tuesday in what apparently began as a state-approved show of anger over the latest Western sanctions to punish Iran for defiance over its nuclear programme.
Iran’s Parliament approved a Bill on Sunday to downgrade relations with Britain, one of America’s closest allies with diplomatic envoys in the Islamic Republic.
The hours-long assault on Tuesday on the British Embassy and a residential complex for staff in chaotic scenes reminiscent of the seizing of the U.S. Embassy in 1979 could push already frayed diplomatic ties toward the breaking point.
British Prime Minister David Cameron called Tuesday’s attack “outrageous and indefensible” and said Iran’s failure to defend the embassy and its staff was a disgrace and would have “serious consequences.”