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Britain expels Iranian diplomats over 'outrageous' embassy attack

Britain is to expel all Iranian diplomats from the UK in response to what Prime Minister David Cameron described as an "outrageous" attack on the British Embassy in Tehran.

Iran british embassy tehran 11 30 2011Enlarge
Iranian protesters storm the British Embassy in Tehran, November 29, 2011. Police dispersed the crowd with tear gas. (Fars News/Getty Images)

Britain is to expel all Iranian diplomats from the UK in response to the attack on its embassy in Tehran, Foreign Secretary William Hague announced Wednesday.

Iran's embassy in London has been ordered to close immediately, Hague told parliament. Its staff have 48 hours to leave the UK, the BBC reported.

"They cannot expect to have a functioning embassy here," Hague said, accusing Tehran of "some degree of regime consent" in the storming of the embassy and nearby residential compound. He denied, however, that the UK would severe relations with Iran entirely.

Iran blames the incident on individual protesters.

More from GlobalPost: Iran: Protesters trash UK embassy in Tehran

The UK has also withdrawn all of its own diplomatic staff from Tehran for their own safety, the foreign secretary confirmed. The embassy there is currently closed, and Britons are advised against all but essential travel to Iran.

All embassy employees have been accounted for since Tuesday's incident, Prime Minister David Cameron said.

In a statement Tuesday night, he condemned the "outrageous and indefensible" attack:

"The failure of the Iranian government to defend British staff and property was a disgrace. [...]

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

Iranian police have made several arrests in connection with the incident, Tehran-owned Press TV reported. Officers have also pledged to tighten security for British diplomatic staff.

Iran's Foreign Ministry said it regretted "the unacceptable behavior shown by a small number of protesters" and stressed it respected international laws on the protection of diplomats, said Fars news agency.

More from GlobalPost: Iran: Attack on British embassy sign of growing conservative power

However, lawmaker Kazem Jalili warned the UK to expect further "outrage and anger" from the Iranian public if it continues with its "hostile" policies against Iran, reported Press TV.

According to Reuters, the Wednesday editions of most local newspapers celebrated the attack:

"Fox's den seized," ran the headline in conservative daily Vatan-e Emrouz, referring to Britain's nickname "the old fox" which reflects a view widely held in Iran that the former imperial power still wields behind the scenes influence in Iranian affairs.

Several newspapers referred to the storming as akin to a repeat of the 1979 takeover of the US embassy in which 52 Americans hostages were held for 444 days, ending diplomatic ties with Washington that have never been restored.

More from GlobalPost: Iran: Parliament votes to expel UK ambassador

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/united-kingdom/111130/britain-pulls-diplomats-out-iran-over-outrageous-embassy-attack