Iran passes law expelling British envoy: report

28th November 2011, Comments 0 comments

Iran's Guardians Council on Monday approved a parliamentary bill demanding Britain's ambassador to Tehran be expelled within two weeks, making it law, the website for state television reported.

The confirmation by the council, whose jurists and clerics vet parliamentary texts to make sure they adhere to Islamic and constitutional rules, means Iran's foreign ministry now has to apply the measure.

Iranian lawmakers on Sunday passed the bill in retaliation for fresh Western sanctions over Tehran's nuclear programme, in particular Britain's announcement it was "ceasing all contact" between its financial system and that of Iran.

The law calls for diplomatic ties between Iran and Britain to be downgraded to the more junior charge d'affaires level.

It also contains a clause warning that other countries could also be punished if they followed Britain's lead.

"After discussions, members of the Guardians Council have passed the law unanimously," Guardians Council spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei said, as quoted by the state television's website.

Britain unveiled its new sanctions on Iran on November 14, in conjunction with similar measures by the United States and Canada.

They based their step on a report by the UN atomic energy watchdog a week earlier that strongly suggested Tehran was researching nuclear weapons.

EU nations were expected to unveil more sanctions against Iran at a foreign ministers' meeting on Thursday. France has called for a freeze on Iranian central bank assets and an embargo on Iranian oil.

Britain and Canada have embassies in Tehran. The United States does not, having closed it after Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution. Canada's mission is already headed only by a charge d'affaires.

© 2011 AFP

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