World outrage at British embassy storming in Iran

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Britain led a chorus of international outrage on Tuesday over the storming of its embassy in Tehran by protestors, with even staunch Iran ally Russia condemning the raid.

"We are outraged by this. It is utterly unacceptable and we condemn it," a Foreign Office spokesman said as Britain urged its nationals in Iran to stay indoors.

"Under international law, including the Vienna Convention, the Iranian government have a clear duty to protect diplomats and embassies in their country and we expect them to act urgently to bring the situation under control and ensure the safety of our staff and security of our property."

Protestors stormed Britain's embassy and another diplomatic compound in Tehran, trashing offices and stealing documents in attacks that dramatically escalated the West's standoff with Iran over its nuclear programme and sparked international alarm.

The protests came after Britain last week said it would cut off all relations with Iran's financial sector as part of a raft of sanctions coordinated with the United States and Canada.

Washington condemned the attacks in the "strongest terms," the European Union called it "unacceptable" and France denounced the "flagrant and outrageous violation of the Vienna Convention."

Meanwhile at the United Nations, Security Council envoys held talks with Western nations seeking a strong condemnation of the protests, with a statement expected from the 15-nation council later Tuesday.

"The United States condemns in the strongest terms the storming of the British Embassy in Tehran," White House spokesman Jay Carney said, adding "we stand ready to support our allies at this difficult time."

"We urge Iran to fully respect its international obligations, to condemn the incident, to prosecute the offenders, and to ensure that no further such incidents take place either at the British Embassy or any other mission in Iran," he said.

In Brussels, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she learned of the attack "with extreme concern."

"I call on the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran immediately to fulfill its international obligations, including the Vienna Convention, to protect diplomats and embassies," she said in a statement.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said in a statement that "France holds the Iranian authorities responsible for the integrity of all diplomatic missions in Tehran."

"Once more, the Iranian regime has shown what little consideration it has for international law. France denounces this flagrant and outrageous violation of the Vienna Convention" on diplomatic relations, Juppe said.

Close Iran ally Russia also slammed the attacks as "unacceptable and deserving condemnation," according to a foreign ministry statement.

Moscow said it hoped "the Iranian authorities undertake necessary measures to immediately restore order, investigate what happened, and prevent a repetition of such incidents."

It added that the raid "was conducted in contravention of generally accepted norms of international law" and expressed support for the British diplomats.

Moscow is Tehran's closest ally among the major world powers, conducting regular consultations with Iranian officials even as they face growing diplomatic isolation from the West.

Iran's foreign ministry later expressed regret over the "unacceptable" storming, adding that "the relevant authorities have been asked to take the necessary measures and look into this issue immediately."


© 2011 AFP

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