Iranian Officials Expelled From London After William Hague's Deadline Expires

Iranian Officials

Huffington Post UK   First Posted: 02/12/11 16:35 Updated: 02/12/11 19:29

Iranian diplomats have begun to leave the UK after a deadline for their departure expired.

Foreign Secretary William Hague ordered the closure of Iran's embassy in London and demanded that its diplomats leave by 2pm on Friday, after the British embassy was attacked in the Tehran earlier this week.

The Foreign Office said in a statement that all diplomatic staff of the Iranian embassy had left via Heathrow airport.

"They are returning to Iran in line with the Foreign Secretary’s statement to Parliament on Wednesday," a spokesperson said.

Earlier on Tuesday around 20 protesters were filmed at the embassy shouting "terrorists, terrorists, must go, must go" on Tuesday as removal vans took away boxes and equipment.

Meanwhile in Iran government officials have reportedly planned a 'heroes' welcome' for the expelled diplomats.

In Tehran cleric Ahmad Khatami denounced Britain in a speech to students, warning that those who "tie themselves to the rotten rope of Britain" would face harsh consequences.

Crowds chanted "death to Britain" during the address at Tehran University on Friday prayers.

Hundreds of Iranians, many of them students, stormed the British embassy on Tuesday after the UK decided to impose further sanctions after concerns over its nuclear programme.

The Iranian government says that it did not sanction the attack, but British officials have said there is no way the regime was not complicit.

Britain's ambassador to Iran, Dominick Chilcott, told the BBC that the attack could have only been made "with the acquiescence and the support of the state".

Hague has described the attack as "outrageous and indefensible" and welcomed the "solidarity" expressed by other European Union nations, with many including Germany, France and the Netherlands withdrawing their ambassadors in protest.

Praising the organisation's determination Hague said: "I think the Iranian regime should hear that loud and clear from this meeting in Brussels."

Alongside the expulsion of Iranian officials, Hague said that the EU would pursue its new sanctions against the country, including freezing the assets of 180 individuals and businesses and banning them from travel in the EU.

"There will be further measures against Iran unless Iran changes its behaviour and the course of its (nuclear) policies," Hague said. He added that a possible ban on Iranian oil exports to the EU was still being considered.

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