Two Years After Attack on British Embassy

Britain, Iran Working Toward Renewing Diplomatic Ties, Reopening Embassies

Countries will appoint 'non-resident charge d'affaires' tasked with working to renew relations, U.K. foreign secretary says.

The British government announced Tuesday that it plans on taking steps to renew full diplomatic relations with Iran, which broke down two years ago after an attack on the British Embassy in Tehran.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague told parliament that, during a meeting with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, the two decided their countries would appoint "a non-resident charge d'affaires tasked with implementing the building of relations, including interim steps on the way towards [the] eventual reopening of both our embassies."

Iran would need to make "substantive changes" to its disputed nuclear program if it wanted the West to ease sanctions on it, he added, saying the future of British-Iranian relations would depend on concrete steps by both sides.

In November 2011, Britain imposed heavy economic sanctions on Iran and announced it would cut off all financial ties between British and Iranian governmental bodies. Following the decision, Iran expelled the British ambassador from Tehran.

Several days afterward, an angry crowd, which included representatives of the Basij militia -- a voluntary force controlled by Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard -- stormed the British Embassy in Tehran. The embassy was torched and the British diplomats who managed to escape were evacuated several days later. In response, Britain expelled all Iranian diplomats from London. Since then, the relations between the two countries have been almost entirely frozen. 

David Cameron, left, and Hassan Rohani.
Iran raid on U.K. embassy - Reuters - Nov 29, 2011