News Brief – November 27, 2011
Iran has announced that it will expel Britain’s ambassador to the Islamic Republic after the national legislator voted to downgrade diplomatic ties with Britain.
President Ahmadinejad’s government will now reduce its diplomatic ties with Britain from ambassadorial levels to that of charge d’affaires.
Signed into law at a sitting this Sunday, the bill was passed with 179 yes votes, 4 oppositions and 11 abstentions.
The 4 who opposed the bill demanded a complete cut of diplomatic ties with Britain rather than a downgrade.
According to an Iranian radio report, some MPs chanted “Death to Britain” before the vote, with one lawmaker warning that Iranians angered by London’s latest sanctions could storm the British embassy as they did to the U.S. mission in 1979.
The bill was passed days after Britain – often referred to in Iran as “the old fox” – targeted the country with new sanctions aimed at its petrochemical industry and financial sector.
The U.S. and Canada joined Britain in these latest sanctions to be imposed on the Islamic Republic.
The U.S. currently doesn’t have an ambassador in Iran; the Swiss Embassy in Tehran handles its affairs in the Islamic Republic. While Canada and Iran both recalled their respective ambassadors after a row over the murder of Iranian citizen killed by an off-duty Canadian police officer in 2003.
The bill to downgrade diplomatic ties has a two-week deadline to be implemented.
Iran is expected to downgrade its diplomatic ties with other European Union countries in the coming weeks.
Many Iranians suspect that Britain and other western countries colluded with anti-government protesters after the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009.
The Iranian parliament’s website announced that there would be a demonstration outside the British embassy on Tuesday, the first anniversary of the death of Majid Shahriyari, a nuclear scientist killed along with his wife by a car bomb that many suspect was the work of Israeli agents.