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EU warns Iran of retaliation over British embassy attack

The European Union warned Iran on Thursday that it would take “appropriate measures” in retaliation for the storming of the British embassy in Tehran.

EU foreign ministers said in a statement that the EU was “outraged by the attack on the British Embassy in Tehran and utterly condemns it”, calling it a violation of the Vienna Convention requiring Iran to protect foreign embassies.

The EU council of ministers “also deplores the decision to expel the British ambassador from Tehran”, the statement said.

“The council considers these actions against the UK as actions against the European Union as a whole. The EU is taking appropriate measures in response,” it added as ministers met in Brussels.

The statement did not specify what those would be.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague asked EU counterparts to consider “whether they could do things in solidarity with the UK”, according to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

“There was no requirement or request for a unanimous or one single approach, rather that each country should show in one way or another its solidarity with the UK,” she told a news conference after the talks.

“I think the foreign secretary was very happy with what was said.”

France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands have recalled their ambassadors from Tehran for consultations while non-EU Norway temporarily closed its mission there in the wake of the incident.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said the ministers decided to “coordinate our decisions to recall ambassadors”.

Portugal’s foreign ministry called in the Iranian ambassador to Lisbon on Wednesday to condemn the storming of Britain’s embassy as “not acceptable”, the ministry said Thursday.

Iranian protesters raided the embassy and another diplomatic compound on Tuesday, trashing offices, stealing documents and defying police efforts to remove them.

In response, Britain closed its mission in Tehran and ordered Wednesday that Iran’s embassy in London be closed within 48 hours.

As he arrived for the talks, Hague told reporters he was “very strongly impressed by the emphatic support” shown by European partners.

In a separate move linked to Iran’s disputed nuclear activities, EU ministers adopted new sanctions against Iran, placing travel bans and assets freezes on 180 companies and people directly involved in the country’s atomic drive.